Five to One

We tend to be inherently negative.  We tend to look for problems.  That’s what this employee retention speaker and employee retention author sees all the time.  We are negative by our nature and to become positive takes a lot of work.  However, it’s work that must be done if we want to be successful in the changing workplace.  The new generation of employees doesn’t respond well to negativity.  Why?  Because they were generally told how great they were and how much they mattered.  Granted, that is a generalization, but it tends to hold true of most millennials.

The reality of the new workplace is that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials.  If you think you are going to get the same amount of performance out of them as other people by using the same methods, you are wrong.  They were raised different and respond to different feedback.  Combine the fact that the average person (not just millennials) needs to hear five positives for every one negative to be motivated.  Those two facts clearly mean we need to shift our feedback to be positive in nature.

Don’t get me wrong, this employee retention trainer firmly believes in telling people what is wrong and facing up to issues.   But, I was blessed during my career as an HR professional to be trained by people that were inherently positive in their approach while I saw other people who worked for inherently negative people.  We were upbeat, optimistic and ready to take on the challenges.  Others were scared to say anything, risk averse and not terribly engaged.  They did what they could to avoid getting yelled at or criticized.  It motivated very few of them.  Generally, it made them shells of what they could have been.

Instead of focusing on things that are wrong, we need to focus on what is right.  You still work on fixing things that are wrong but that’s not your obsession.  When the floor is mopped right, say so. When the yard looks good, say so.  When someone handles a difficult customer well, say so.  That’s what will get you more of what you want and will feed people wanting to do things right for you.  When they do something wrong you say so, and then move on.  If you don’t , you won’t get performance out of them and you surely won’t retain them.  Right or wrong, they won’t put up with that type of leadership and will quit.

People need a five to one ratio if you want to get optimal performance out of them.  Make sure you are focusing on the five.  It’s always easy to bring up the one because that’s the way we are wired.  Shift the focus and see what happens.  It worked for people who led me, and I am convinced it will work for you as you lead the new generation in the new workplace.

Jeff Kortes

Jeff speaks and conducts workshops regularly in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. He draws on his experiences as a human resources professional, father, coach, martial artist and U.S. Army veteran to provide thought-provoking programs that yield results.