The Book of Positives And You!
I think most of us will agree that giving multiple positives for every negative, or constructive bit of feedback is optimal. And… if we were all doing that, morale, engagement, and team member happiness would all be much better than they are on every one of our teams. It’s just hard to do consistently, because of all of the other demands placed on us. However it is important enough to keep searching for ways to give more positives.
This might seem like too simple of a suggestion, and when I managed my first restaurant so many years ago, I felt like there was no way I could do everything I needed to do operationally and still develop relationships. My district manager was one of the first to introduce me to relationship building, and would not let me off the hook. She suggested keeping a notebook for positives. The person running each shift would have to write down at least one positive for everyone working that day, and then thank the each person when we saw him or her. Don’t even think about the negatives, as we have probably already taken care of speaking to someone about those.
At first it seemed like a chore, and on weekends a big chore with so many people working each shift… we weren’t used to thinking about positives, and we found it tiresome, not only to make this stupid list, but also to track down team members who were gone by the time we made our list. I had committed to doing it, so we kept up with it. No one wanted to be the one to drop it, so each and every shift we spent some time writing down positives. At first we would get to the end of the shift before remembering, and so we’d have to stay and write… And since no one wanted to stay late, that prompted us to start writing things down, and thanking people during the shift.
Team members liked the fact that we were showing them more appreciation, and I could tell that they didn’t believe we would keep it up for long. As so often happens, we start things with the best of intentions, and then… you know… things happen, and team members get skeptical. This however, had it’s own built-in reward system for every one of us. The team members loved the extra attention and appreciations, and so they started doing more in order to get more appreciations. Not big things… just smiling more, working together more, and cleaning without being asked… that was our reward.
Before long, perhaps a number of weeks, it was no problem to write down multiple positives for almost everyone, every shift. About the same time we found team members seemingly competing for the number of positive comments we had to give. It feels odd to write this, and the way it worked was almost magical.
In the following months we all found ourselves finding good things left and right, team members working even harder, finding small ways to make things better. One of my assistants had the idea of focusing on areas in which we wanted to see improvements, like cleanliness. The positives all around the store were so easy to see by that time, keeping up the list was no problem. All we did was all one or two extra positives each shift based on cleaning, as the team was already cleaning more than usual. It did not take long for the team to get on board… They would clean things that were hard to clean without being asked, and everything from the front doors to the back corners of the coolers looked better than ever.
The team members started so get ahead of us, looking for ways to improve anything and everything. They began to look at the building, fixtures and equipment, as well as systems and smallwares. Old containers, flatware, and glasses were culled out and new ones ordered, and they started offering suggestions for dealing with lines on Friday night and Sunday morning.
I know this might sound too good to be true, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we were dancing and singing in the kitchen day and night like a crazy musical. It was good but not that good. Not every team member was energized and excited about it, which made them stand out. One supervisor didn’t want to get on board, so… I helped him find a job where he would be happier.
Otherwise, it worked out better than I could have dreamed. Morale in the store was really high; we were working together from shift to shift better that ever, and any negativity in the store was confined to those few who helped us help them find other jobs.
I could not recommend this more highly… try it for yourself and see… what have you got to lose?
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