It’s National High five day – time to celebrate success!

19th April 2022

On April 21st, it’s National High Five Day in the US – the day when the rest of the world thinks all Americans go around high-fiving everyone shouting ‘good job’. 

We all know how good it feels when we’re given positive feedback, especially when given publicly. Yet why is it that if you do a good job 99% of the time, you don’t get that high five but when you make one tiny mistake that’s all anyone talks about? Why is it that at any project meeting people find it much easier to point out the things that have gone wrong rather than the many more things that have gone right?

Humans, naturally, will tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive. We have a negativity bias. The reason for this is that negative events have a stronger effect on our brains than positive ones. Ask a team to give their feedback on an event or a project and they will always, without fail, focus on the negative and find the things that didn’t go perfectly or could have been better.

Just think … how many times have you left a restaurant and thought “that was a great meal” and written an email to the owner? Yet how many times have you had a bad experience and thought about leaving a bad review on Trip Advisor? 

To break out of this habit, we have to consciously try to be positive. We have to make ourselves think good thoughts! We have to search for those high five moments. At Secret Source, there are a few things we do – from starting 1:1s with what’s gone well, our peak of the week,  to celebrating our superstars each month in our whole team meeting – but the one initiative that has made the most difference is how we start our sprint retrospectives.

Sprint retros used to be a time we dreaded; our client would tell us off for being one day late or for creating a bug, and everyone would leave demoralised … not any more.

Positive thinking makes you happier – it’s a fact. So every retro we start with “what went well”. We get all the team to think about all the small wins, not “we finished the sprint” or “I survived another sprint”, but specific positive feedback we can give other members of the team. Everyone has to do it, and everyone has to think of something complementary. This way, every retro gets off to a great start; everyone feels positive and motivated, and the meetings are generally so much more enjoyable and productive. We use metroretro but any tool that gets your team talking positively to each other will work.

At Secret Source we believe that the happier you are, the better work you’ll do and getting nice feedback from your colleagues will make you happier!

Happy High Five Day!