When a text becomes a powerful leadership tool.

Mitch Matthews - Encouraging your team

When a text becomes a powerful leadership tool.

When a text becomes a powerful leadership tool

There are plenty of studies out there showing how texting is actually hurting our ability to communicate. So when I suggest to audiences that they can use texting as a leadership tool… it surprises some people.

Before I walk through this simple leadership “how-to,” let me give you some background on why it’s powerful.


When I train leaders on coaching and mentoring skills, one of the areas we focus is on “effective encouragement.” That’s because when a person feels acknowledged for their efforts, they tend to be more engaged, loyal and present. Plus, encouragement can also be a great way to coach people to move towards being more productive and effective.

We’re not talking about a “rainbows and butterflies” approach to encouragement in which managers cheer for their teams for showing up for work or just breathing. We’re talking about watching for the specific behaviors you want to see more of… and encouraging that.

I always say, “Encourage what you want to see repeated!”

To that end, I offer leaders the “4 S’s” of Encouragement.

If you see a team member doing something you want to see more of… use the 4 S’s as your guide:

  • See it! (Let them know what you saw and why you appreciate it)
  • Specific! (Let them know exactly what they were doing right)
  • Speedy! (Let them know as quickly as possible after you see it)
  • Small (& big) wins! (Don’t just celebrate the BIG wins. Look for small steps in the right direction and celebrate those too!)

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about throwing them a party or buying them a cake. This is simply about offering quick pieces of encouragement. But these small investments can pay off in significant ways by making a big impact on behavior, engagement and consistency.

The 4S by TEXT:

Recently, I was doing some mentor training with a group of managers for a fast-growing tech organization. As we talked about offering encouragement, one of the managers confessed that she saw the value in offering encouragement but didn’t feel like she had much time to do it. She also added, “I’m not much of a ‘touchy-feely’ kind of person, so I have a really hard time doing this in an authentic way.”

So I offered the “4S by TEXT” option.

That is… at the end of the day… think through your team and your day. Mentally process the activities you saw your team walking out. Do your best to land on one specific behavior you saw that you would like to see more of… and send a text to that person saying thanks.

They can be short and sweet. But they can still be powerful.

  • “Great job on the TPS report today. That was a lot of detailed work and I really appreciate how hard you worked on it. Thanks!”
  • “Thanks so much for delivering project x early. It was great for the whole team to see how you not only did it well, but you got it done early! Thanks for being a leader!”
  • “You really came in prepared for that presentation today. I t really helped you to be clear and confident. I was proud of you. Great work!”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that encouragement offered face-to-face can be more powerful, BUT if time is tight and/or encouraging people is difficult for you… this can be a great option. Plus, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes and it’s a great way to wrap up the day! I’ll also say that managers who use the the “4S by TEXT” tell me that their team members love to get an encouraging text from time to time… especially on their way home.

So try the “4S by TEXT” and let me know how it goes. It’s simple, powerful and easy… and can help you to encourage the very things you want to see repeated!

By the way, what are some other ways you’ve found to encourage the right kind of behavior in your team? Click comments and join in the conversation!

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