Talent Management


Earlier this year Will Barada invited the members of his leadership forum to contribute articles for this blog that might be of interest to our readers from the HR and recruiting industries. This post, by Lisa Raven, is the first in that contributed series.


When asked to share a customer service story, people will overwhelmingly share a negative experience. Notice that they were not asked to share a negative experience, but negative sticks and is more readily remembered. What this means to leadership teams is that it takes more purposeful effort to create a positive environment. People are more productive when they are positive versus when they are in a negative, neutral or stressed state. That statement seems like a “no brainer,” but be sure to embrace what it means. According to research from Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, people can be up to 31% more productive when in a positive state. Raise your hand if you’d like to increase your team’s performance by 31%!

Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. We tend to ponder more about unpleasant events. Is a feedback or coaching session considered an unpleasant event for your team members? Here are quick tips to pump up the power of the positive during conversations with your staff, especially when you need them to correct something:

  • Ask questions to get your team involved in the conversation. Ask for their opinions and thoughts on what causes may impact the lack of performance. Ask for their suggestions to improve, and use one or more of their suggestions. This collaboration shows they are valued, which is great for their positive energy and buy-in to improve.
  • Point out what progress they have made … progress is a positive motivator. Research in the book The Progress Principle highlights this under-utilized component of motivation.
  • Avoid ending a conversation with bland and vague comments such as “you are doing a great job.” Instead be sure your bottom-line point is clear and said in an encouraging way. Consider closing with something like, “I really appreciate your attention to improving your ‘X’.”
  • Smile … your energy is contagious!

hero Lisa Raven

President & Fearless Leader