The other evening my children were helping with dinner. One willingly complied with my request for assistance. A salad was in the making. The other was not so willing to help with setting the table. After much negotiation and with the chance of a significant reduction in screen time the younger child proceeded with their allocated task. I was full of praise for the younger child, complimenting them on a good job. The older child continued with their work, quietly and diligently. After some time, the older child asked me why I praised their sibling but not them for getting on with their job?
It hit me instantly.
In workplaces, how often do we given recognition to the person who just goes about doing their job? They are getting on with the task at hand, without fanfare or fuss. Whilst the person that takes more time and energy to manage, receives praise for a change in behaviour. We don’t always reward the consistent behaviour that supports productivity, culture and efficiency, perhaps because it’s not extraordinary? We do however reward positive changes in behaviour. On the surface, that seems fair. There isn’t too much effort in doing the right thing. There is more effort in modifying behaviour. But there is also quite a bit of effort in assisting the person to modify their behaviour. Perhaps it becomes a shared achievement, and therefore the praise and reward are mutually beneficial?
For my children, one felt an injustice had occurred when their louder less compliant sibling was being praised following a shift in their behaviour; however, their consistent and steady behaviour went unnoticed.
A significant learning in this example was that doing the right thing would have gone unacknowledged had it not been brought to my attention. In that moment, the older child elevated their impact. They had the awareness to recognise their behaviour and contribution and to call me out on not seeing what they could see.
What I learned from this is that our ability to elevate our impact can come from the most unlikely places and in somewhat unexpected ways. In this scenario my child was able to elevate their impact by making me aware of an obvious omission on my part to recognise them. I was also able to elevate my impact, as this experience which has become a story will remain fresh in my mind for what I suspect will be a long time to come. It has made me realise that even the ordinary should be recognised so it can be maintained.
Having an impact doesn’t always need to occur in big spectacular ways. Having an impact on someone can occur in the smallest of actions. It is often in the smaller actions that the biggest impacts are felt.