Impact Your Team in Seconds with Positive Microbehaviors

Woman and man talking, smiling, and laughing.

By Kim Hegeman 

It takes only seconds to make or break a team member’s day. While we all feel constantly strapped for time, we all can spare a few seconds to ensure that as leaders we are positively impacting our teams. 

These brief interactions are called microbehaviors. “Microbehaviors require less time, effort, and preparation than many other managerial responsibilities but are essential to being a good leader and manager,” says Artell Smith, president of WatchWorks Management Consulting LLC and CPED instructor. 

Our microbehaviors have the potential to make an immediate and positive impact on someone else. Fine tuning your microbehaviors is not as heavy of a lift as you might think. In fact, Artell says that small adjustments are the core of microbehaviors. 

Artell dives into the topic of microbehaviors in the webinar, “Becoming a Better Leader by Getting the Little Things Right.” Watch the full webinar

It’s Not About You 

When it comes to microbehaviors, perhaps the biggest eye opener is that they are not for you. They are for the other person you are interacting with. Your goal with a positive microbehavior is to maintain or enhance that person’s self-esteem, even if the reason for the conversation is to deal with a negative behavior or situation. 

Practice the Process 

For some of us, it comes more natural to quickly exhibit a positive microbehavior during an interaction. For others, it may take more practice. The simple process of observe, reflect, create, and deliver will guide you in ensuring you are being intentional with your positive microbehaviors. 


Even in situations where you are caught by surprise or need to react quickly, the first part of the process is always to pause and observe. Take a moment to understand what is happening. Take in all the relevant data. 

Focus your attention on the person you are interacting with. What does that one single person need to have a more positive and productive day at work? A lack of focus on the other person will derail you from a positive microbehavior. Remember, it’s not about you. 


Next, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve observed. Consider possible reactions and responses as well as their implications. 

Some individuals are reluctant to go through this reflect moment, even if it only takes a matter of seconds. Pause. Collect your thoughts. Then respond. Give the other person the opportunity to see you are being thoughtful and deliberate about your interaction. 

“Use that pause and reflect opportunity because it can make the difference between saying a positive thing and having someone go on with their day very happily or having to recover from a negatively intended microbehavior,” Artell says. 


The next step in the process is to create the microbehavior in your mind. Don’t rush to the delivery step. Consider the best way to convey your message that maintains or increases the self-esteem of the other individual in your interaction. 

Consider your word choice, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language as well. They are key to the delivery and reception of your microbehavior. 

Keep in mind that microbehaviors are intentionally brief, so you don’t need to craft an entire conversation to convey your positive micorbehavior. 


The final step is to enact your microbehavior. This process should be practiced and repeated as much as possible. “Take a few seconds to work through the process,” Artell says. “It makes a world of difference.” 

“It’s really about taking the moment, recognizing that the impact reaches far beyond that mere amount of time it could take,” Artell ads. 

Focusing on how you can have a positive impact as a leader will improve both your performance and the engagement of your team members. Artell and our other CPED instructors can help you further develop your leadership skills and elevate your impact in both our Leadership Beyond Management and Transition to Executive Management programs.