Positive feedback is much better than fault-based feedback

This is a fascinating experiment in how different types of feedback affect people’s persistence and success in a creative task.

Unsurprisingly, positive feedback that doesn’t punish mistakes is much more effective. People who lost points for wrong attempts and were given negative messages gave up sooner and succeeded much less often.

I’m convinced that the exact same thing goes on in many workplaces. We need to change that and encourage much more positive feedback.

Here are some tips on how:

One thought on “Positive feedback is much better than fault-based feedback”

  1. In performance, people tend to have a “normal” level and sometimes they do something spectacular, sometimes they make mistakes.

    Managers have had the experience that when they have praised for the spectacular, people have not kept up the spectacular behavior – but reverted to the normal – while when they have scolded after mistakes, people have not repeated the mistakes – but reverted to the normal. The takeaway has been that scolding works better than praise when the truth is, that as performance goes, reverting to the norm is – well, the norm.

    There is, however, a world of difference between being noticed only for mistakes or being noticed both when one does something good and something not so good. It impacts how much the employee wants to put effort into the work.

    That said, if one wants to make the spectacular performance the norm, rational review of what precisely made this performance more successful or which exact mistakes could be corrected next time is better for learning than general praise/flak. It also focuses on the action, not the person.

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