Earlier this week I was working with a client to create a business growth strategy and we were brainstorming what needed to improve to get them there.
I mentioned that we should ask their team of employees to join the conversation and that I would be happy to facilitate the discussion. I asked my clients, the owners of the business, what they thought their employees would contribute to a discussion like that. They said, “probably not much as they think we’re already great, and certainly better than any of our competitors.”
That was refreshing for me to hear since employees usually have a laundry list of things the company for which they work needs to improve. Then I told them, “our work is about becoming a ‘Champion Organization,’ and as Albert Einstein once said, ‘the problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the same level of thinking created them.’ So, to meet that challenge and get all of you thinking like a champion, then we need to add ‘two magic words’.”
They looked at me quizzically.
I said, “yes, the two magic words…’even better.’
The two magic words I’m talking about are “even better.”
What do those two words do?
They raise the bar. They raise the level of thinking. It begins to set an expectation of constant and never-ending improvement.
If we’re not doing well in some areas and we just look to improve to get things to a basic “acceptable” standard, there’s no growth in that. We need to take the things we’re already doing well and ask, “how can we make it even better?”
So many business leaders struggle with giving people constructive feedback because those conversations are viewed as negative. And they are, if the focus is always on improving faults and poor performance and behavior.
What if we reframed the discussion and acknowledged an individual’s effort and level of performance, even if its subpar, simply saying, “that was good (great, ok, etc, whatever adjective is fair and appropriate), and here are some ways you can do it ‘even better!‘
Now, this isn’t appropriate in all situations and leaders need to look for the right opportunities to apply it. But, I would bet that there are many feedback situations that get a negative reaction and hurt relationships of direct reports because of the way the feedback discussion is framed when someone does a decent job on something and we ask them to be do it better.
The difference between asking someone how they can “do it better” and asking them how they can “do it even better” is a slight shift in your communication that can make a huge difference.
Because by adding even we are adding a presupposition, or an assumption, that whatever thing you are talking about is already being done well, or at an acceptable level, and it acknowledges that fact while asking to raise the bar.
It can be very empowering and positive and will improve relationships and trust with those you are interacting with.
Try it and let me know how it goes.
’til next time, make it a great week!