Look Mommy Look

March 2010, by So-Young Kang

Imagine a child learning to ride a bike. He takes his hands off the bike handles and yells, “Look Mommy Look!” and then falls down. What is this child looking for from his mommy?

  • Acceptance and acknowledgement for trying the best he can
  • Encouragement when he falls down
  • Recognition and praise for progress made

How does this situation relate to how we interact with our employees, teams and organizations? Is it really that different?

If we look at children and people, in general, do we really believe these things are true?

  • Don’t our employees want to do a good job?
  • Don’t they want to be helped and encouraged when they get stuck?
  • Don’t they want to be accepted and acknowledged for who they are in all of their natural strengths and talents – and for the effort they have put forth?

So why don’t our organizations always behave this way and do a “good” job?

  • Is it possible that some people are so used to getting berated and criticized when they make a mistake, that they have become conditioned to not ask for help and try to avoid taking any potential risks which could result in error – leading to lack of creativity and innovation.
  • Is it possible that they don’t feel valued so have no motivation to work hard because it doesn’t matter anyway?
  • Is it possible that their managers assume they won’t do a good job anyway so that whatever they do is already filtered through a negative frame?

It can easily become a vicious cycle… unless we make a choice to be different and create a different environment. How can we avoid this cycle? Here are some ways to get started.

  1. “Look in the mirror.” Assess your current culture – what do you see? How rooted is it in your values? Is it real or desired? Be honest with yourself.
  2. “Dream.” Redefine the culture and environment you want to create.
  3. “Walk the talk.” Role model the behaviors you want to see that are consistent with your desired culture.