Motivating with Criticism and Praise

22 Nov

“He only profits from praise who values criticism.” Heinrich Heine

Many managers believe that one of the most effective ways to successfully motivate employees is through praise. However, when praise is relied on exclusively, over time, it loses value and means less and less to the employee. The person receiving praise is not expected to change behavior. Rather, they are encouraged to continue along the same course for which they’ve been praised.  After all, most people interpret praise as, “I’m doing a good job so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”  Rarely, is the praise interpreted as needing to improve on some aspect of your performance.

Criticism, on the other hand, implies a change in behavior where praise does not. While receiving criticism doesn’t always feel good, especially when compared to praise, some experts consider criticism to be the more powerful communication tool.  Pointing out the negative aspects of a person’s actions can lead to new challenges along with greater opportunities to succeed and perform at higher levels.

However, just as consistently praising others can lead to undesirable outcomes, so too can overdoses of criticism. Used properly, criticism can be motivating. Handled poorly, it can erode a person’s self image and rattle his or her confidence. The best motivator, then, is the proper balance of criticism and praise – which varies from individual to individual.  More on that next week!

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One Response to “Motivating with Criticism and Praise”

  1. drdebbright November 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Thank you, Vincent!

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