Saturday, February 14, 2015

After Dumbing Down Education with the Everyone has to be a Winner Mentality ... It Now enters the Workplace

If you don’t have anything nice to say, management has a tip: Try harder.
Fearing they’ll crush employees’ confidence and erode performance, employers are asking managers to ease up on harsh feedback. “Accentuate the positive” has become a new mantra at workplaces like VMware Inc., Wayfair Inc., and the Boston Consulting Group Inc., where bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation.
The shift may annoy leaders who rose in a tough-love era in business, but executives say hard-edge tactics simply do more harm than good these days.
When employees’ flaws are laid bare, “there’s that mental ‘ugh’ and shrug of, ‘This is who I am,’ ” says Michelle Russell, a partner at BCG.
Bit by bit, the consulting firm has changed the way managers evaluate employee performance. For years, those discussions focused largely on employee missteps and where they needed to improve.
“We would bring them in and beat them down a bit,” says Ms. Russell. After the reviews, she observed some employees left the company as their confidence and performance slipped; others seemed rattled days or weeks later.
Now, managers are expected to extol staffers’ strengths during reviews and check-ins, explaining how the person can use his or her talents to tackle aspects of the job that come less naturally.
Bosses are advised to mention no more than one or two areas that require development, Ms. Russell adds.
Some veteran managers dismissed the new approach as a feel-good initiative, she says. Others found they had to force consultants—so accustomed to homing in on their weaknesses—to listen to what they were doing well, says Ms. Russell.
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