Use Non-Stick Labels in the Workplace
Like it or not, we all get labeled.
We are the early one in, or the last to leave. We are the most organized, or most messy. We always get our work done on time, or a few days late. Although we don’t want to be labeled or even label someone else, it happens. We are human after all.
The essential element to labeling though is to use the non-stick kind. People change. It can be positive or negative change, but we change. Labels, however, have a way of, well, sticking around. When positive change happens and negative labels stick, this creates unproductive and defeating attitudes about teams and leaders.
As leaders and team members, when we label someone, we have a responsibility to take some action. We cannot just label and run, as we carry a responsibility to follow through.
If we stick a negative label on someone, we then need to:
Coach the Person
When we identify a behavior or action that is inappropriate, annoying, or just not right, we need to have the conversation to highlight what we’re seeing and feeling. We should give advice, suggestions, and ideas on how to act in a different way – a better way. It’s about having that open, honest conversation, listening, exchanging, and learning – mutually.
The essential element to labeling though is to use the non-stick kind. People change. It can be positive or negative change, but we change.
Reinforce Positive Change
As a better habit unfolds, we have a responsibility to reinforce it with positive words of recognition. It is about highlighting the new words, and actions, and letting the actor know how much better the change is. If we want negative labels to remain discarded, we should encourage and recognize the new behaviors and attitudes. Make sure the change sticks.
If we stick a positive label on someone, we then need to:
Check to Ensure the Label Still Applies
There are sanity checks we should do. People can get worn down and slip into bad habits. We cannot always keep our “rose-colored glasses” on when it comes to those around us. We need to listen closely to others and observe all that is happening; to ensure the positive behaviors of the past are still positive in the present.
Ensure the Behavior Is Evident Even When We Are Not Present
We like to think people act a certain way when we are around them just as when we aren’t. However, it doesn’t always happen this way. Depending on the tools available, team surveys and other means become important. It can be as simple as having one-on-one lunches or meetings with various individuals at different times. Again, we must listen and understand what is working and what isn’t. We need to widen our perspective, mindfully and attentively.
When we take two extra steps on the positive labels and negative ones, we begin to use non-stick labels and create a more positive, engaging culture.
We need to be open in our perspective and lead by engaging diversity. In doing both, we will lead forward with greater strength and purpose.
Art by: NoxSatuKeir