Boosting Employees’ Self-Esteem with Empty Praise Rarely Improves Performance

April 29, 2014

  • April 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm
    Dar Novak says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 15
    Thumb down 5

    American Idol is a poor example for this column. It is an excellent example of what I call ‘totally scripted’ entertainment. I maintain that almost all activities on such ‘reality shows’ are scripted for maximum entertainment value. Almost nothing is spontaneous or unrehearsed. From the viewer ‘voting’ to the scenes where someone says “I’m gonna vote Joe off the island because he is terribly annoying and infantile.” This is all scripted and staged for entertainment purposes. Yes, the ‘winners’ are pre-determined in order to provide maximum anxiety for the viewers which results in better ratings so the sponsors will pour more money into the show. Please use a more reliable example (nothing from television or movies or the entertainment industry) with some integrity to it. Thank you.

    • April 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm
      Agent says:
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 20
      Thumb down 0

      I actually liked your comment Dar. I wonder who the idiots are that disliked it. You are right, this country is caught up in fantasy, particularly where Hollywood is concerned. People don’t really know what is going on in the real world, but they can tell you who won American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. I suppose this is part of the dumbing down of society. As far as this article goes, I don’t believe in empty praise for routine or average work. Genuine praise is given for outstanding effort and expertise. Those people usually end up with bonuses and promotions.

  • April 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm
    Coach Pat says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 5
    Thumb down 0

    Agree with Dar & Agent in that idol is a poor example.

    Apparently the point is to provide reason for establishing realistic performance measures for employees based upon a pre-concept that abilities are generally over estimated by individuals and that this is related to innappropriate gratification. While I agree with the conclusion that specific measures of performance are a good idea I doubt that the need is based upon overestimation of one’s abilities and resultant dismay at less than spectacular future performance.

    My experience has been that self evaluation come from every angle and this is one of the reasons a manager / supervisor / mentor can be useful. Specifically to insurance, I believe expectations are most aptly applied based upon the “pond” one is in. Dealing with commercial clients is different than dealing with private parties, handling large property claims is different from personal auto claims, and development compliance programs for P/C business is different than it is for health insurance. They are all related but have varying requirements based on situation. Expectations and measurements should be adjusted accordingly. Generally speaking meta analysis is wrought with peculiarities too.

    • April 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm
      Agent says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 5
      Thumb down 0

      Sometimes when trying to hire someone, it is prudent to have someone like a good Employment Agency do some pre-screening for you to see what the potential employee knows, job skills and background check. Then, checking references is a good idea with prior employers will reveal much. If it goes far enough for an interview, that is the final determination of whether a hire is made. We have missed on a few and they didn’t work out, but we also hired some really good people who have been with us for many years and they like it here.

  • April 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm
    Puzzled in PA says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 8
    Thumb down 0

    I am not sure I see the negative to positive reinforcement for behavior if it is properly delivered and does not conflict with other job performance observation. Some people respond well to a compliment or positive assertion of their performance and a regular basis, if it is deserved. Of the employees in the workforce, 90% of them are not going to be superstars, and that’s all right. There are only so many jobs that those superstars can vie for. Without all the “grunts” readying the table, perhaps the superstars would not be looking so good on their own.

    • April 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm
      KY jw says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 4
      Thumb down 0

      Oh, Puzzled in PA, good point about needing the grunts.

      • April 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm
        Agent says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 3
        Thumb down 1

        The idea is to have good grunts and not people collecting their check every two weeks and doing just enough to keep from being fired. A pleasant attitude also comes in handy dealing with the public, particularly with difficult clients. I heard something several years ago that rings pretty true. If you want something to get done, give it to the busiest person in the office and it will get done. Give it to one who is not busy and you don’t get it back in a timely fashion and often it is wrong. Attitude has a lot to do with work production.

    • May 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm
      ralph says:
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 11
      Thumb down 0

      one of my favorite stories is about a man who comes home after WW2. He’s in a bar telling a story about how he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and about everything he did and saw, and was showing off the medals he received for bravery.

      One of the other patrons said, “You’re welcome.” Puzzled, the D-Day vet asked the man what he meant. “I packed your parachute,” he said.

      The first man realized that without people like those who carefully packed his parachute, he wouldn’t be able to go as far as he did.

      Think about it…You may be a great underwriter / producer / agent or whatever it is you do, but if you can’t trust the person packing your parachute, you have nothing. Try and take the time today to thank someone who has your back, and be sincere about it.

      I hope everyone has a great weekend. Remember, take nothing and nobody in this world for granted.

      • May 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm
        Libby says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 3
        Thumb down 0

        Good post, as usual, Ralph! Same to you.

  • April 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm
    A pat on the head says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 5
    Thumb down 0

    Now go back to work!

  • April 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm
    A pat on the head says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 5
    Thumb down 0

    PS: The aforementioned post is with tongue in cheek!

  • May 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm
    Joe says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 2
    Thumb down 0

    In the context of coaching and managing employees, focusing on people’s positive contributions and recognizing their work skills is the best way to support and encourage more of the same. This is the guiding principle behind Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s seminal business classic, The One Minute Manager.

    Offering an honest and realistic evaluation of employees overall performance is different, and requires skillful know how to point out areas that warrant improvement without making the other person feel criticized or defensive. Insincere flattery, on the other hand, is never helpful.

    • May 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm
      Agent says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 2
      Thumb down 0

      Joe, our agency developed a very good evaluation worksheet that we use to evaluate our employees when review comes around each year. All owners have input on the employees, what they are doing right, what they need improvement on etc. Most of the time, it is more technical training to be more proficient at their job. We make sure they get that training, whether it is operating system or CE training for coverage in either Personal Lines or Commercial Lines. Some of our companies also offer training on their system and they do that as well. Insurance changes so much all the time, it is hard to stay up with it. The employees appreciate our interest in their development and work hard for us.



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

More News
More News Features