By Jeff Haden via inc.com Article
Want to Be an Exceptional Leader? Science Says Think This Way (Because Most Bosses Don’t)
“Praise can be incredibly motivating. Praise can be extremely encouraging. Praise can be hugely inspiring. If you do it the right way. Take the wrong approach, and praising an employee can actually have the opposite effect. The difference lies in whether you assume skill is based on innate ability…or on hard work and effort. …
According to research on achievement and success by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, people tend to embrace one of two mental approaches to talent:
- Fixed mindset: The belief that intelligence, ability, and skill are inborn and relatively fixed–we ‘have’ what we were born with. People with a fixed mindset typically say things like, ‘I’m just not that smart’ or ‘Math is not my thing.’
- Growth mindset: The belief that intelligence, ability, and skill can be developed through effort–we are what we work to become. People with a growth mindset typically say things like, ‘With a little more time, I’ll get it’ or ‘That’s OK. I’ll give it another try.’
… When you praise employees only for their achievements–or criticize employees for their short-term failures–you help create a fixed mindset environment. In time, employees come to see every mistake as a failure. They see a lack of immediate results as failure. In time, they can lose motivation–and even stop trying. After all, why try, when trying won’t matter?
Fortunately, there’s another way. Make sure you also praise effort and application.
- ‘Hey, you finished that project much more quickly this time. You must have worked really hard.’
- ‘Great job! I can tell you put a lot of time into that.’
- ‘That didn’t go as well as we hoped…but all the work you put in is definitely paying off. Let’s see what we can do to make things turn out even better next time.’
… By praising effort, you help create an environment where employees feel anything is possible–as long as they keep working to improve.
The same principle applies to how you encourage employees. Don’t say, ‘You’re really smart. I know you’ll get this.’ … Instead, say, ‘I have faith in you. You’re a hard worker. I’ve never seen you give up. I know you’ll get this.’ The best way to consistently improve employee performance is to create and foster a growth mindset. Not only will your team’s skills improve, your employees will also be more willing to take more risks.”