Chapter 3 Reading – Excerpt from Bob Sutton’s Blog

September 9, 2009

It is amazing how powerful persuasion—both positive and negative—can be. As highlighted in this blog posting, the simple act of telling someone they cannot improve can have such a profoundly negative impact on that person’s actual performance. To me, this illustrates the importance of keeping a positive attitude with one’s employees and encouraging them to keep working on improving their skills. As the author points out, negative feedback provided in a way that conveys a belief that the employee cannot improve simply encourages employees to avoid things that may result in negative feedback, something which will only serve to worsen the situation.

As a manager, I find this article somewhat vindicating of my management approach. Generally speaking, there is usually some positive that can be found in any output from an employee. In assessing the employee’s performance and providing feedback, I do my best to point out the good things while also noting areas where the employee can improve. I think its best to focus on steps the employee can take to implement this improvement, while using language that conveys to the employee that you believe he or she is capable of performing at the level you want. I have had a good deal of success with this approach in my short time as a manager, so it is nice to see that there is actual research that backs up this management approach.


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