Praise can backfire!

Giving employees positive feedback in the hopes of promoting better performance can sometimes backfire, suggests new research from the psychology department and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the London Business School.

As I understand it they conducted an experiment where undergraduates were asked to act as managers in a recruitment process. Half the group were praised for their great decision making in the recruitment process. The other half werre praised for their creativity.

All were then told that the person they had recruited was not working out.

Those who had been praised for their decision making skills in the recruitment process invested more time and energy in trying to ‘save’ the poor hire rather than just cutting their losses and getting rid. Hence it is proven that giving praise can backfire!

This seems like BAD science and even worse management on so many levels.

The guinea pigs were praised regardless of the behaviours and talents they demonstrated during the exercise. Only the most incompetent manager would praise people indiscriminatley without any regard to what they actually do!

First law of feedback is to make sure that it relates to specific behaviours and is not just plucked out of the air.

If you want to check out the ‘research’ then you can do so here,