Believe In Them and They Will…


Do you believe the best in your employees? Are there some that are underperforming? If you changed your opinion about the underperformer to a favorable one, do you think their performance will follow?

There is a theory, somewhat old now, that believing in the best in people actually does improve their performance. It is called the Pygmalion Effect.

Some argue that the effect is self-serving. For example, if you intentionally treat someone better, does their performance actually change or is it simply a change of perception that colors your view of them?

Store level retail is full of entry-level associates. Many have no background in retail, and their adaptation may be slow. This could lead to an unfair perception that they are not the right material.

How can you show them that you believe in them?

When we believe the best in them, what would they become? Here are four suggestions to help you put this theory to the test:

  1. Give them a task or project that is essential yet difficult.

Give them the proper training and encouragement, and let them try. Tell them you believe in them. If they get stuck and come back to you, ask them what they feel their barriers to success are. Ask them how they can overcome those barriers. Encourage them to go with their own solution.

  1. In the interview process, outline the path to management level.

Let them know that many employees started in the same position, and you believe that the person you hire will have that capability. After you hire them, tell them that you will commit to giving them the training over time if they commit to give their best.

  1. Constantly ask them, “What would you do?” when they ask you for direction.

In the beginning, there is a need for clear direction. However, after a few months, there is a good chance the employee already knows the answer. When they look for direction after gaining experience, ask them “what would you do?” When they reply, unless their answer is outlandish or violates company policy, tell them that it is a good answer and encourage them go do it.

  1. Frequently inquire about their future.

If they indicate a future that is with the company, ask them what they would like to try next. Unless it’s not feasible, make it happen for them.

The worst case is that the employee fails you. However, when they fail, give them a hand back up. It’s OK to fail as life’s best lessons are often learned this way.

Retail has a high degree of turnover, and much of it is due to lack of engagement. When you express your belief in them, I believe you’ll see reciprocation in engagement. With your belief and their engagement, so much more is possible than before!

I would like to hear your thoughts or comments!


Little League Lessons In the Workplace

Matt Third Base-min

My son has been playing in the Little League All-Star tournaments since early June. Today, he is playing in the championship game for Nevada.

I’ve always had an influence in his baseball life. I’ve helped coach his teams in 7 of the 8 years he’s played. When he plays on a team I don’t coach (like this All-Star team), I always have encouraging words to say to him to help his progress. Here is a recap of some of the encouragement I’ve given him this tournament and how it relates to business coaching.

“Win every pitch.”

He was the starting pitcher the game before last against the tournament favorites. Before the game, I told him that the game is not won inning by inning or batter by batter. It starts with trying to win every pitch.

In the business world, this could apply to the employee who deals with the customer. Your business growth and livelihood is won customer by customer. It’s also won task by task as you stock shelves or build displays or make the lobby look nice.

In that game, he pitched two strong innings to keep his team in it before they pulled him. He gave up only one hit.

“Be ready when your number is called.”

On his talented all-star team, he doesn’t get to play every inning. On his regular Little League team, he was the star and played every inning. It’s important he doesn’t get down on himself when he’s sitting on the bench.

In the world of an upwardly moving employee, it can be frustrating to not have a chance to move up when you’re ready. If you have an employee like that, reassure them that they are doing a great job. Look for more opportunities to use their skills. Give them stretch projects to build skills needed for the future. Delegate other opportunities to them that may be a little outside of their role. Finally, help them look out for opportunities within the company even if it’s outside of your department, store, division, etc.

Last night, my son only got one at bat and hit a double! His team won that game 8-1.

“Stay within yourself.”

My son’s team can all hit great, and most of his teammates have a homerun in this all-star run. My son, though physically one of the strongest kids on the team, has not hit a homerun. He’s now hit 3 foul balls that would have been long shots if they were fair.

He was getting frustrated that he wasn’t hitting home runs. I told him he just needs to focus on making good contact. Don’t use a home run swing. Stay quick and short to the ball. The homeruns will come.

In business, sometimes employees will fail because they try to do too much. Don’t get down on them. If needed, help them see that simplifying their execution…or focusing on what really counts is a more productive use of their time. If you consistently execute on a series of small correct actions, the bigger results will happen.

Work or life doesn’t happen one homerun at a time. It’s really a series of choices in which we’re tasked with making the correct choice as many times as possible. As a result of the accumulation of our positive choices, the homeruns eventually come.

Since that conversation, my son has relaxed at the plate and been more productive for his team than before when he was looking for homeruns.

Matt Bat-min

Do you have any sports analogies you like to use in the workplace? Please let me know in the comments box!