Last week I had a meeting with a client. We discussed what his company could accomplish in 2016. As we talked, I shared with him that feedback from people who worked for him indicated that many employees felt they received hardly any recognition for doing the little things that help the company succeed.

After discussing this for a while, the client and I agreed to put a process in place in 2016 that would reward people for doing good things. Specifically, we are setting up a process to reward people “who are caught doing something good.”

Both in the workplace and in our homes, we tend to focus on calling people out for making mistakes. At the same time, we often fail to recognize or compliment people for a job well done. The unfortunate result of this is that people who are good at doing the little things that contribute to success feel unappreciated for their contributions. If this goes on long enough, many people stop going the extra mile because they do not feel it is worth it.

I challenge you to become a person who consistently compliments others. This means going against the tide and actively looking for situations where people are doing something good and then complimenting them. If you can do this, you will notice a marked difference in the way people react to you.

If you are in a leadership position in the workplace, you will find that people will begin to find more ways to help each other and help your customers. Several organizations that I have worked with in recent years have implemented specific programs to recognize positive efforts. An intentional emphasis on finding good things to compliment people on, rather than simply punishing mistakes, can significantly impact a company’s culture.

One of our good friends leads a community theatre company. She has been President of the organization for many years. One of the most noteworthy things about her leadership is her consistency in publically acknowledging and recognizing the members of the group for their contributions to the success of her theatre company and to theatre overall. At the beginning of each show the group puts on, she thanks the volunteers, both the actors and the behind the scenes people for working to make the show a success.

When rehearsals begin for a show, she comes to the early rehearsals to thank the actors and crew. She also indicates that she appreciates the fact that their families have allowed them to contribute so much of their time to the success of the production.

About four years ago, she took a couple off from the presidency to deal with some things in her personal life. However, during her time off the board, the theatre group lost its edge. There were fewer volunteers and the whole environment was less positive. There seemed to be more focus on what was wrong instead of the good things the group was doing.

Fortunately, she returned to the presidency of the board. In the last few years, the success of the theatre group has surged. The energy and creativity has gone up. Several new initiatives have been successful, and the volunteer base has increased significantly. Most of this was a result of restoring an environment where volunteers feel appreciated for doing the little things that make the theatre a success.

Most of us live and work in worlds where we are criticized or put down many times more than we are complimented or encouraged. The cumulative effect of this negative feedback, over time, is to beat us down and make us feel unappreciated and unmotivated.

However, as a leader or as a member of a team or a family, we can change this simply by starting to catch people in the act of doing good things. We can do this in both the workplace and at home. And by doing so, we can help people re-engage, become more positive, and feel better about themselves.

By practicing this habitually, in the workplace your employees will work better together as a team. And, if you do this at home, you will raise a family that has a positive view of themselves and children who approach life with a positive outlook. As a result of this, they will have an edge toward having a positive impact on the world around them for the rest of their lives.