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If atop the table before you sits a crystal ball of amazing power and magnitude, predicting the future would be easy. Reality suggests no such ball sits on your desk at the office. Human behavior and human nature is, in fact, fairly predictable, but it takes knowing key indicators and then being aware of remaining objective and not emotionally invested when that team member ticks you off at levels you had not previously imagined. So, how do you do it? How do you predict future employee behavior without magic, tarot cards, or hypnosis? Enter the following three steps from today’s Monday Moment.

1.     Gaze into Praise

The fortune teller might suggest you gaze into her eyes or her smoke machine filled, oddly erie, studio. However, when in leadership, to predict future employee behavior, gaze into, examine, and pick apart your praise process. Look at how each employee receives recognition for great contributions. Note and learn how introverts and extroverts need praise delivered differently. Examine in what ways what you thought was praise is actually provoking a lack of higher performance. For example, praising early completion of a new project by taking the opportunity to suggest more changes or enhancements and thus creating the need for longer hours invested in what the team thought was done and finished is not motivating. Gaze into praise. Putting the employee who prefers to be behind the scenes on the employee of the month plaque is not helping. Continue to do it and she will be less of a stellar performer in the future. Merely giving a raise to the extrovert without telling anyone what they did and why they deserve an extra incentive will cause them to act out in an effort to get attention, even if by being negative. It’s predictable and can be prevented with a bit of gazing.

2.     Check if Consequences are Getting Heavy

Hypnotists say your eyes are getting heavy and those who cluck like a chicken on stage, obviously believed them. There eyes got heavy. Are your consequences doing the same? Are you constantly complaining about work performance but unwilling to provide more time, information, or resources? Then yes, your consequences of both the complaints and withholding what is needed, even if only additional development, will predictably produce what you believe to be poor performers. Look at how often you reward work completion with the privilege of then getting to do more work! Check on how many times punishment is doled out to the team because of the acts of one employee. This will cause all employees to take less risks and fear standing out, even in the effort to become better, which sometimes mean failure. If your consequences are too heavy or the lack of them is readily apparent, the impact on performance is predictable. People will stop trying. Check those consequences quickly and remove the barriers to performance.

3.     Read All Training

Tarot card readers claim the ability to read you your future from colorful images on cardboard. You have more of these skills than you might imagine when you look at the types of training you, your managers, or your organization is providing. If you provide classroom training, what is said and not said in that program is sending a message. If you will not invest in employee training, online, though webinars, or otherwise, that is also sending a message that employee growth is not valued and most will show you how much they fail to value organizational progress. But, more important than both of those is the reality that all leaders train employees how to treat them. For example, a leader gets promoted, has put a person in his or her old role, but continues to answer questions and put out fires on the team for which a manager has been hired, the leader trains the team to ignore the new leader. We are always training others how to treat us and choosing to be unaware of how employees are consistently reading the actions of leaders is a predictable issue. They will do what you do or show them to do. Your issues then become generational and pervasive throughout the organization. Employees watch what leaders do more than they hear what is said and will emulate actions instead of follow words. Train others how to treat you and predicting their future behavior is easy. Get a clear read on the type of training you’re doing, even if you’re not meaning to do it.

Predicting the future requires no fancy equipment. Human behavior, particularly in the workplace, is pretty predictable. Threaten to fire someone and never do it, they’ll catch on to what’s reality quickly. Yell and scream, but never take action on what angered you, people get used to you being explosive and move on. Continue to praise people only in the manner that suits you, some will like it, some you’ll lose. But if you gaze into your praise programs, check on all of your consequences, purposeful and otherwise, and read the training you provide, you might just have to sell tickets to watch the accuracy of your employee behavior predictions.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of  www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121.

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