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Over the years, this employee retention speaker and employee retention author has heard a variety of sayings about people and how they will perform.  One of those sayings has been “See the good in people…and that’s what you will get.”  As an HR leader, I always tried to view people from positive assumptions perspective.  I found that 9 times out of 10 people responded in a positive way.  They lived up to those expectations.  In many cases, these same people actually said to me, “No one’s ever treated me that way.”  They were not only surprised but grateful.  They also responded with performance that far exceeded the performance that they had ever delivered in the past.  When that performance occurred, I made it a point to thank them and tell them that, “I knew you could do it.”  From that point on there was nothing but good that took place.

On the other hand, I remember going into some hard-core unionized environments in the 70’s and seeing people treated like dogs.  All the people.  It was as if management was conditioned because of a variety of factors to look at people as lazy, needing constant direction, liars and every other negative assumption you could have about people.  What this employee retention trainer saw was that even the best employees became sour, negative and in general just said, “The hell with it.”  What took place was that nobody was happy, quality sucked, getting productivity from people was a constant battle and the environment was an oppressive one in which to work.

I know for a fact that I didn’t like it.  Maybe that’s the reason that his employee retention speaker got his start in Human Resource on the other side of the table as a union leader.  When I was in that role, I found myself working with jaded leaders who I had to convince that not all the people on the plant floor were “slugs.”  I was successful in getting through to a fair amount of those leaders and things began to improve as they started to see the good in people.  Not all of them changed their attitude.  Thankfully, most of them that didn’t were old and on the road to retirement!  We gradually started replacing them with people who viewed people in a positive light.

What amazes me to this day is that we still have some of those dinosaurs working in industry. They are just better at hiding it.  Not as many as before…but still a few and they suffer from a revolving door of employee turnover and poor employee retention.  If you see people in a negative light and get results that are negative…perhaps it’s time to change your outlook or become extinct.