The Weekly Reflektion Week 48 / 2020

When things go wrong, we often end up criticizing the people involved and sometimes this criticism is justified. However, does telling someone that they did something wrong give them an indication of how to do it right? Maybe. Telling someone that they have done something right on the other hand gives a clear indication of how to do it right and a reasonable chance that it will be repeated.

How do you break that vicious negative circle that is undermining your organization?

When my son was in his first years at primary school, he attended day care from end of school hours until he came home. The people running the day care centre were friendly and easy to get to know and the kids seemed to have a great time there. One afternoon I was talking to the lady in charge of the day centre, the team leader. She told me a story about a young boy that they had with them the previous year. He caused lots of trouble, he didn’t do as he was told, and he drained the energy of the staff. ‘What are we going to do with this boy?’ everyone called out. The team leader told the staff, ‘find something positive that the boy has done and let me know’. This was a challenging task but eventually the boy did something well and this was reported to the team leader. She called the boy over and told him she was really pleased with what he had done. She felt this was so good that the boy’s parents should know about it. She told the boy that she had written a letter and she wanted him to give it to his parents when he came home. The next day the boy arrived at the day centre with his parents who asked to speak to the team leader. They told the story of the boy coming home and telling his parents he had a letter for them from the care centre. They dreaded what might be in the letter, although they could see the boy had a big smile on his face. They opened the envelope and read it out. They told the team leader that the boy’s faced beamed as he heard the positive feedback from the day care centre. The parents were greatly relieved and thanked the team leader for her feedback. They had problems with the boy at home as well and it was just so nice to see him being recognized for something that he had done well.

I asked her whether the boy’s behaviour was much better after this experience. She told me that when the boy left the day care centre after a year his behaviour was much better. She was under no illusions that one positive message was enough to change the boy’s behaviour. But it was a start. It broke that vicious negative circle that the boy and the staff at the day care centre were in and gave them that glimmer of hope that this may work out well. 

Constructive feedback – Is it that simple? Sometimes it may be. At the day care centre, it was just the first step, but it was a step in the right direction. That is surely better than a negative status quo.

Reflekt AS