Stop calling people from your team this way if you want them to perform
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
It’s very dangerous how you call the people from your team. It’s very dangerous what you say about who you are, especially in a group of people as a company.
We are what we think, talk, and do. If you believe you can achieve your goals, you will figure out how to do it; otherwise, you will give up on the first excuse you have.
Being part of a group, you can influence either in the right way or in the wrong way others’ performance.
In this text, I will show you the importance of how you and your team call yourselves can influence everybody’s performance.
I wasn’t always concerned about how you describe yourself, neither about which words I use. I used to say things without overthinking when working with a group of people.
I became very detailed with words during college with a colleague who later became my business partner at my first company. Because of that, I’ve been paying attention to the words that I use and the words other people use. I’m not perfect at that, but I try to do my best.
It can be either fantastic or awful for a company how you use certain words.
I’m a person that likes to make jokes with lots of stuff, even during work, even leading a company of 13 people. I never abandoned this side of mine, and because of that, I made jokes with my employees. This side of me led to a lighter environment and allowed everyone to be who they really are, which is essential for a company.
However, the fact that I like to make jokes with my team doesn’t mean that I don’t know when to be serious.
As my company grew, I kept this environment where it was ok to make jokes. As new people were getting in, they understood how we behave, and at the same time, new anecdotes were coming out.
Employees even made jokes with me, which for many people outside my company was absurd, after all, I’m the boss, and people should respect me. But making jokes with the boss doesn’t mean that people didn’t respect me. It’s quite the opposite. My team knew when I was being serious and respected the decisions I made. They knew the difference when I was making jokes and being professional.
In many serious speeches I gave, I ended up putting some joke in the middle. That was something unexpected and made the meeting lighter. That also allows the team to be more excited with the goals I was sharing and challenging everyone to beat.
It is very stressful not being who you are at work. If your team has to put on masks at the workplace, they will not be as productive as possible, and eventually, they will burn out and leave the company. That was something that I didn’t want to happen at my company.
I had people on my team asking me what type of people they should be inside the company. My answer was always the same: be yourself. I don’t want anyone working with me not being themselves. I don’t want anyone using masks and pretending to be someone they are not.
In a determined moment of the company, the “fifth-grade” joke started. When someone made a joke that wasn’t funny, this person was called “fifth-grade”. That became very popular here in Brazil a while back ago, and I was already seeing my friends using that. I didn’t expect, however, to see that in my company.
Because I created an environment where jokes were allowed, people attempted to be funny, and because of that, employees were calling others “fifth grade” more often when someone made a joke that wasn’t funny.
I was not too fond of it when I started to hear that more often. I talked to one of my business partners about my concern and the danger of what was going on. We decided to give individual feedback to everyone in the company.
The feedback was the following:
“We don’t hire fifth graders. We only hire amazing people. How you call yourself is how you act, even unconscious. I don’t want anyone calling themselves fifth graders. Everyone here is a professional with challenges to face. The jokes don’t need to stop. I’m just asking you to try to stop using this name for you.”
Everyone in the team understood the feedback, and they stopped making that joke. There was once or twice when someone made a joke with “fifth grade” after the input without realizing and other people from the team called the person’s attention without me having to intervene.
Many people may see this feedback as something small inside a company, but this makes much difference when building a team of amazing people.
If people think they are fifth graders, they will perform like fifth graders. They will not perform at their best. I particularly want people performing at their best. How about you?
I once created a group on Facebook at the beginning of my company called Cupcakers (the name of my company was Cupcake Entertainment) for everyone that was part of it. I wanted everyone to feel excited about being part of the company. I wanted people helping the company to grow.
I did that inspired by what I have seen Google doing where they call themselves Googlers. If you are part of Google, you will feel excited to be named a Googler and give your best to the company.
If you want your team to have outstanding performance, pay attention to your team’s words. Pay attention to the words you are using.
Don’t call anyone stupid (I’ve seen that more often than I would like to see in other companies). Don’t call anyone in a way that they wouldn’t be dignified. If someone makes a mistake, focus on solving it and how to avoid it from happening again and not calling the person names.
You can solve most of the problems if people stop calling others names that are not cool. Unfortunately, we still live in a world of bully bosses and coworkers. Don’t be someone like this.
Focus on using words that can motivate and excite your team’s people, not ones that can be seen as bullying and discourage them.
You may use something with the name of your company, as I mentioned before. You may use an adjective that will show how amazing the people of your team are.
Again, you are what you think, talk, and do. Use this wisely inside of your team.