Why Lavishing Praise Sucks

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Scenario: "Dude, you're the best all-day-everyday. Yeah YOU! Oh-yeah. Yay!" You know the deal: Those "experts" telling you: "Lavish praise and watch them soar!" But what happens when you praise your team 24/7? You create people who are:

  1. afraid of failure
  2. risk-adverse
  3. mediocre baboons

Instead, just be super real with them.

  • When they suck: "Yo! I didn't like how you did this. You're so much better than that."
  • And of course, when they're good: Praise them.

Balance Praise

You want to be well-liked. We all do. (Well, most of us.) So you figure: "Hey, if I criticize them, they'll hate me. Ahh!" When you're lavishing praise on your peeps, you end up destroying their kick-booty abilities even more. You know why child prodigies never fully realize their potential? It started with excessive praise. Then, came the television appearances that showcased their skills. Then, the awards. Then, the idolizations. Then, the yadda, yadda, yadda. Says Stanford's human psychologist, Carol Dweck:

One very common thing is that often very brilliant children stop working because they're praised so often that it's what they want to live as - brilliant - not as someone who ever makes mistakes.

Praise is good; but doing it excessively is (1) corrupts the person's mindset, and (2) dishonest.

How Praise All-the-Time Robs Your People

Say Billy Bobby just designed your information infrastructure. You're unimpressed, but thinking you don't want to hurt his feelings, you let his work go unchecked. What happens next?

  1. Thinking you "loved" his work, he performs as mediocre as last time.
  2. Scared of being imperfect, he avoids risks.
  3. Your firm starts generating shoddy results.

Ouch. You're too much of a badass to let that happen. Start being real with your praises to your peeps. And watch your team soar higher than a you-know-what. (And of course, don't be some whacked-out-dictatorial-nut-job: Too little praise will crush your superstars.) So when you're heading into your weekend, remind your fabulous team:

"I praise for real, b!^ch*s."

Have a great weekend, y'all! We love you.

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Posted on February 09

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