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Staff Recognition & Retention

Choose to see the positive, rather than the negative

I interrupted a recent business trip to spend part of the weekend visiting my mother. Sunday morning we went to church. Sitting in our pew before the service began, my mother pointed out the woman who was playing the piano as a high school classmate of mine who had recently returned to the community.

After the service, I stayed behind as other worshipers left the church. I approached Myrna hesitantly. Would she recognize me after so many years?

She did, soon recalling tales of our long ago friendship that had faded from my memory.

We ended up discussing our high school marks, focusing largely on those subjects in which we had received our lowest grades. I soon realized that I could clearly remember the subjects in which I received my lowest marks (English and French), but not those subjects in which I earned higher grades.

What does this tell us about how we view life? How often in our work and personal lives do we focus on a few failures and ignore the many successes?

What about the feedback we provide to others? Too often informal conversations and formal performance appraisals focus on what went wrong. In both our self evaluation and our assessment of others, we often choose to highlight the negative. The focus is usually on improving in areas of weaknesses.

What a shame that we rarely take the time to think and talk about what has gone well. All of us, and all of those around us, have strengths that can be enhanced. Supervisors, writers and researchers have all concluded that most of the time and effort put into improving areas of weakness is wasted. If we focus the same effort to build on existing strengths, the impact is much greater.

One writer has suggested that a typical worker does his or her job well 95 percent of the time, but 85 percent of the feedback the worker receives is negative. To build a more productive workforce, look for strengths and recognize people more for doing their job well.


During his Staff Recognition & Retention seminars, Nelson Scott emphasizes the value of genuine, timely, specific, personalized and relevant recognition in making the organization more successful, increasing commitment, improving morale and reducing turnover.


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A professional trainer, speaker, and consultant since 1995, Nelson Scott works with organizations that are committed to making the right hiring decisions, developing and retaining productive staff, and strengthening relationships with customers.  Learn more by visiting or e-mailing


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