Momentum Podcast: 360

Recognition Should Not Have A But

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

“You've done such a great job!…..but” You might think that you're giving a positive comment but if you follow up with something corrective you completely deflate the positive. 

As a CEO you create your team's inner voice. One of your most important jobs should be to proactively seek out the things that your team does that make you excited and communicate that with them over and over again. If you can do this you will see things move forward because what you focus on expands.

Full Audio Transcript

Alex: As a CEO, as the leader of your team one of the most important things you can do is tell your team when they are doing something right. But if you do it the wrong way, not only will it stop moving you forward it may actually take you and your team backwards.

One of the concepts I share with entrepreneurs all the time is the John Gottman rule, it's commonly known as the Five to One Rule in therapist circles. John Gottman is actually a psychotherapist. And he works interesting the relationship world and if you've listened to me for any length of time you've heard me talk about John Gottman over and over again. And you've probably heard me talk about the Five to One Rule. There's a reason why I think Gottman is such a powerful author and thought leader when it comes to relationships. Because he collected tons of data, rather than just making assumptions, rather than studying human beings at a distance, he collected tons of data in healthy and in unhealthy relationships and he came up with arguments for what we need to have in a healthy communication relationship.

And in a healthy relationship for every five positive interactions you have with someone, you can have one corrective interaction that's effective, that gets heard, that they can actually can react to. If you have less than that ratio chances are you're not going to have an effective or positive relationships with somebody. Now, this is just as much in your marriage, your relationships with your kids as it is with your team members. Now here the challenge. As CEOs, as entrepreneur, evolutionary hunters we have a negative bias in communication. Here's what I mean by that. We are always looking for what's wrong. Where the opportunity? What can we do better? What can we move forward more? What is the exception? What are we not doing yet? We're constantly looking at where is the deficit? Where is the miss? And the challenge is, that a lot of CEOs that I've talked to, a lot of entrepreneur that I've shared this with, they start trying to communicate accolade, they start trying to communicate positive interactions where they have positive communication interactions with their team.

But the problem is, the add a but. And here's what I mean but that. They say things like, hey great job, but. And it sounds something like this, oh I just want to congratulate our designer on getting 10 of the designs that we need, but now all we need 13 more and I really appreciate it. That doesn't sound like positive interaction to me. That sounds like a corrective interaction and in fact it sounds something like this. I really want to congratulate HR. We have three new people starting this week and I just want you all to know we only have 10 more open positions. Again, that sounds corrective. You as the CEO might hear that you tried to be positive but because you followed up immediately with corrective it just doesn't work. Like, sales I want to let you know we had a record week but we still haven't hit the conversion rate we want but I really appreciate you guys.

As soon as you add a but to any type of interaction. Here's what you do. You completely deflated the positive. In fact, it can actually become more negative than if you had just said nothing. You don't balance to with that. In fact, people who get corrected in that way don't hear the positive. They just hear that they missed. And if as a CEO, this becomes your method of communication you become incredibly confusing to the people around you because what they're hearing is I think I know, what they're hearing is I think he says something is positive but then it really doesn't sound that way. So, they don't really know which direction to go. And here's the issue. As a CEO if you're not telling you're not giving them positive feedback, if you're not telling them what you really want the to do then you're going to end up in a position over and over again where your team is focused on the negative.

Here's why. What I focus on expands. What you consistently talk about with your team expands. If you only had one way to communicate with your team, either one correcting everything they did wrong, or two only being allowed to tell them what they did right. You tell me, which CEO if there's one that could only tell their team what they did wrong and one that could only tell their team what they did right which CEO would have amore successful company? I guarantee you I know. It's going to be the CEO who can only communicate the positive. Because if you try as a CEO to go for a week with just telling your team what they've done right, you will see at the end of that week you make massive progress because it's not jus what you focus on expands, it's what your team focuses on expands.

And if you're the CEO who's allows communicating the positive, who's always telling your team what you want them to do, your team is going to move forward like crazy. Now, the challenge is, it's really hard to do that because when you see something wrong, when you see a challenge, when you see an issue you want to be able to communicate it. So here's how you earn the relationship capital to be able to communicate an issue. You can consistently and constantly communicate what's going right without a but. You just say, hey sales team that is incredible that we had that many sales this week. And HR, I'm so impressed with the amount of hiring that we've done and you just communicate the positive. You don't communicate the negative. You do not communicate the correction as part of the positive or it actually is not even a correction at all.

The people working for us, they need to hear positive from the CEO. You become the inner voice that they hear. I have a podcast called You Become an Inner Voice. Go back and listen to it. If you haven't yet or if you know that this is an area that you need focus and you can improve then go listen to it again. And it's one the podcasts of my own that I listen to again which I know sounds crazy but I actually go back and listen to every single podcast because in a way I'm coaching myself and I need to remember that I become my team's inner voice. So I do everything I can to tell them what is positive. To tell them where I recognize that we're moving interesting the right direction to tell them why I'm proud of them, why I'm excited, why I feel good about what we're doing together so that they know what they should expand. And they know what they should focus on and they know what I really want.

So as a CEO one of your most important activities is to proactively go out and find what your team is doing right, find what you're excited about, find what's moving you in the right direction and communicate it to them over and over again. And every time you do, you need to know you're adding relationship capital in the bank so that every five positive interactions can allow you to be effectively corrective and heard and move your business in the right direction. There's a reason why so many CEOs struggle with their team, don't get what they want, feel frustrated, feel like they're in a tug of war with the people around them. It's because when you become an exclusively negative communicator, when that's all you hear, when that's all anyone around you hears from you, people don't truly know how to focus in order to move things forward for you.

When you're always communicating the negative here's what happens. The people on your team get a afraid to be corrected. They get a afraid that if they try something you're going to come correct them. If the miss, you're going to come correct them. If they take a risk and fail you're going to come to correct them. So you have to in fact instead of correcting your team all the time, protect your team from their mistakes. I have another podcast titled Protect Your Team From Their Mistakes. Why? Because this si such an important topic in people leadership. If you're willing to become a CEO that tells people what they're doing right, if you're willing to take on a positive bias, if you're willing to consistently give your team accolade and let them know why you're excited that they are with you and they are working with you and what they're doing what makes you excited about what they're doing, you will consistently have a positive team that is creating momentum.

But if you become a CEO that is constantly corrective, always telling people what's wrong, you have a deficit bias in your communication, you don't communicate what's positive, then you just become a negative CEO that everybody's afraid of. And you'll have an entire team that does everything they can not to get in trouble and instead of playing to win, your team will start playing so that they don't lose. And there is such a massive difference between the two. I can hear it when I talk to CEOs. A CEO who's team is playing to win says things like, it's going to be amazing this year, you're not going to believe how far we're going to get, we're going to blow the doors off, my team's incredible. A CEO with a team who's playing not to lose says stuff like, I just can't everybody to move in the direction, everybody seems like they're really going in slow, I don't really know what everybody's doing, I'm frustrated with my team because they're not getting enough done. I can't really tell you why but I don't feel like we're doing enough.

If you're feeling like that second CEO chances are your team is playing not to lose. Chances are your team has heard way too much negative. Chances are your team is focusing on not getting corrected rather than on knocking the ball out of the park. So this is an opportunity for you. Start looking for the opportunities to tell your team they're doing something right without a but. Don't correct it, don't tell them they're doing something right and then miss by saying, but then something else. Instead just go look for opportunities to build the relationship capital so that you can tell people that they're doing something right and when you need to, you can correct and you can be heard without your team going sideways and being afraid and not being willing to take risks. Give your team a ton of accolade and recognition and neither one of those should have a but. Just make it clear where you feel positive, make it clear what you're excited about, and make it clear where your team is actually helping you, you will see your entire business shift.

If you're ready to start building a world-class team to help you create your biggest contribution you have ever made, go to Alex, or sorry, go to that's and fill out the simple application there and my team will move you forward and get you on the phone with one of us so that we can give you the options and we will show you exactly how we're helping entrepreneurs around the world build world-class teams and grow their businesses like crazy. Most of the businesses that work with us in their first year and apply our content more than double their volume. What would your business look like if you could double this year? What would your business look like if, like some of our members, you could grow by three, four, five, six even as much as ten or fifteen times.

We've helped businesses explode and if you have a massive opportunity and you're ready to build the infrastructure around it so you can make an incredible contribution and a ton of money, we want you to be massively profitable, go to Let us help you build the infrastructure of people and process around you to grow like crazy. Let us show you how to plan your business strategically so that you can anticipate what's needed next and let us show you how to communicate with your team so that everyone's going in the same direction and you all go forward faster together.

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