Most managers have methods of dealing with poor employees, but the best managers should also have strategies to encourage their top performers, in order to guide their workforce. Ignoring employees may confuse them; your best employees won’t know they are doing well and your poor employees won’t know they need to change. Punishing or criticizing poor employees may also ineffective because although employees know they did something wrong, they may not have been told how to improve. Praising your best performers offers guidance for all employees, because they see what they should be doing, and what standard of work is rewarded in your company.
In 1925, Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock measured different types of feedback given to fourth- and sixth-grade students in a math class. She divided the classes into four groups; one was praised, another was criticized, the third was ignored, and the fourth was used as the control group.
At the end of only five days, the group that was praised for their work showed a 71 percent improvement in their work. The group that was criticized showed a 19 percent improvement, and the group that was ignored only a 5 percent improvement. The experiment showed that praise works better than criticism, and ignoring wasn’t as effective as either praise or criticism.
Generally, it isn’t advisable to give false praise, but managers should learn to give praise when an employee does well. Managers should also prioritize praise over criticism, and always give some form of feedback to avoid confusion and offer guidance. They may start to see the results pretty quickly!