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Praise employees–even when they fail

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Tell bad employees that they’re great and they will be, says a study conducted by the Zenger Folkman leadership development consultancy.

“A lot of bosses believe that if they’re hard to please, then people will raise their performance to meet whatever obnoxious criteria they have,” says one of the authors, Joseph Folk­­­man. “And it’s just not true.”

Forgo a hard-nosed negative approach, and do this instead:

• Protect their egos. Being angry, confrontational and overly demanding breeds fear and stress, both of which lower productivity and decrease engagement. Regardless of the issue, mistake or behavior, always be respectful and calm.

• Overrate employees on performance reviews. If employees are slightly underperforming, inflating their ratings can give them the confidence needed to meet your expectations.

• Find something to praise always. If you’re hard-pressed to find something praise-­worthy, commend the person’s actions going forward. Say “I’m proud of you for owning this issue, working to re­­solve it and preventing it in the future.”

Note: For truly problematic employees, confront the issue head on. Meet with them to talk about problems, set improvement goals and establish consequences for failing to meet those goals.

— Adapted from “Why You Should Praise Employees Even When They’re Doing Badly,” Sarah Treleaven, Canadian Business,

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