Focus on the Positive to Help Your Staff

Be open to change, look forward to getting through tough economy.

Since Feb. 27, 2007, we’ve been swamped with bad news. That’s the day the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., also known as  Freddie Mac, announced it would no longer buy the most risky subprime mortgages and mortgage-related securities.

Ever since then, every consumer has been served a super-sized helping of gloom and doom. Home prices have plummeted, millions of people are hurting and many are out of work. I’m not saying there isn’t truth to all this bad news; what I’m saying is that listening to it again and again isn’t going to help us change the reality of today’s economic environment.

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of people being critical of one another, and a lot of managers and supervisors seem to be doing a lot more criticizing than praising. It feels to me as if almost every store I go into ­— from the grocery to the men’s clothing shop — there’s some employee pointing out what some other employee is doing, or did, wrong.

It’s time for criticism to be more unusual and praise to be more common. After all, most people are stressed and scared. Now is when you need more stroke than slap, more honey than vinegar. Now’s the time to stop focusing on what’s wrong and start focusing on what’s right and how you can make a better situation for yourself, your staff, your clients, and your community.

It’s time to stop focusing on the bad news. It’s time to stop longingly looking back and to start talking about all the good things we have and the good things we want to accomplish going forward.

Start walking the walk and talking the talk of change, recovery and profitable growth. After all, this situation isn’t going to go away or correct itself on its own if all we do is watch and wait. Stop looking to the politicians and start looking to your staff, vendors and customers. They are your partners in this journey, not the politicians.

With everyone looking forward to a bright future and open to some of the most radical change this country has seen in well over a century, we the people can turn this bad situation on its head.

After all, destruction brings change, and change always has the potential for good. Just look at Mother Nature. When fire takes a forest, the forest always comes back bigger, better, stronger than before and just as beautiful. You just have to wait and nurture the growth. That’s exactly what we need to start doing in the economy.

One great way to start could be an all-staff gathering where you do something simple but nice. Maybe an ice cream social with root beer floats, maybe a picnic with family and friends, or maybe a group photo of the entire company that’s given to everyone in a decent frame.

There are a lot of old jokes about the glass of water that’s half full. My favorite rendition is one that asks the question “If an optimist sees the glass as half full, and the pessimist sees it as half empty, how does the engineer see it? Twice as big as it needs to be!”

What we have today is that same half full glass of water, and the best news is that it’s not too big, it’s just right, and it’s time for us to start filling it back up to the brim.

Don’t forget — everybody is struggling, regardless of their financial situation or housing status. Even the most well-off financially are at risk of losing everything in the blink of an eye. Two weeks ago, when the Greek Prime Minister announced he had decided to ask the people of Greece whether they wanted to go through with the European debt deal, the stock market fell 297 points in a day. That hurt the wealthiest among us much more than it hurt the poor.

With or without the politicians, we can succeed. But first you must stop staring at the ashes of yesterday’s failures and start looking forward to tomorrow’s rainbow. Just look, it’s right there, just over the horizon!


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