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Focus On What’s Working

Focus on what's working


I think we’d all like to believe that when it comes to the actions and behaviors we dislike in others, we usually handle the situation fairly and respectfully.

That said, I know we’ve all had moments when we’re worn down and frustrated, and we’ve made the mistake of snapping at someone or criticizing them in front of others. I’ve been there, and that’s why I think it’s so important to implement a fundamental teamwork strategy as a way of avoiding these demoralizing situations.

At Strategic Coach, we’ve made it a cultural premise to focus on behavior that’s rewardable, not punishable. This way, we can always be innovating and growing because people have the confidence to take risks. Personally, I feel free to be initiative and try new things because I know my team members aren’t focused on what I may be doing wrong.

Praise in public.

When you reward the behavior you want to see more of, it creates an environment where your team can be on the offensive, not the defensive. I make a point of publicly praising people when they’re doing things right because I know that what gets rewarded gets repeated. It’s always beneficial to remind people that their teamwork is greatly valued.

Pointing out and appreciating someone’s achievement adds oxygen to the system. Teamwork automatically starts running more smoothly, and people look forward to working with you.

Taking the time to recognize what others are doing increases the value of that action, and team members feel that they’re making a difference.

Criticize the behavior, not the person.

Unfortunately, regardless of everything that’s working, the reality is that there’s always going to be behavior that doesn’t work and frustrates you. So how do you handle these tough situations?

It’s important to remember that people usually aren’t aware of how their actions are coming across. This is why it’s so important to criticize the behavior, never the person. And although it can be tempting to punish people, the reality is that it doesn’t work. If you let them know that their behavior is disruptive and why it’s not working, they can course-correct without losing face.

Correct in private.

Be sure to have conversations about things that may be going wrong in private and one on one. Think about a time you were criticized publicly—how did that feel? No one wants to be embarrassed in front of others. It’s important to protect people’s confidence and to handle these situations with sensitivity and discretion.

This earns you appreciation and admiration from your team. You’ll be seen as a class act and as someone with control over their emotions.


A winning culture is a learning culture.
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A “what’s working” culture.

When you start focusing on rewarding rather than punishing behavior, people start growing into their strengths. They become motivated by verbal rewards and, all of a sudden, you have a company culture focused on what’s working.

People will be empowered, and great things will start bubbling up from your whole team. A winning culture is a learning culture, so start focusing on where you can reward team members for their contributions.

About the Author

Shannon Waller, Entrepreneurial Team Strategist, is a natural collaborator who instinctively saw that a thriving Unique Ability® Team can strengthen their entrepreneur, the business, and themselves. A win-win-win. Go, team, is Shannon’s rallying cry.

Profile Photo of Shannon Waller