Praise the effort, not only the result

Motivating the child within (and being real with it)

by daniel on May 10, 2011

Being a manager is about helping people get the most out of what they do while growing and improving. I’ve always wondered how one can help the other look into himself for the strength to do more. Then I stumbled on this question from this site, skeptics exchange, about how to motivate kids. The results of the research are surprising but very logical after you think about it from the children perspective
Here are two situations:

The child gets a good note and receives a positive feedback: “you did great, you are so smart”
What is the meaning to the child? That he succeeded due to an unknown factor, out of his control. What would happen next time? Can he be ready to use it again? What will happen if it fails?
I’d better not test it again as I might fail

Compared to:

The child gets a good note and receives a positive feedback “you did great, what a great effort you put in”
What is the meaning for the child? That he succeeded due to his control, due to his work. What can he do next time? Since the effort is controlled he can decide to use it again and succeed

I’ve been describing the situation from a child’s view, but I don’t think that the basic analysis is different from emotional perspective. Adults have the same fears and doubts, only less obvious.
Why the different reaction important for a manager? This is one of the few cases where clear advice is given – to praise the result of the work.
Is this advice true for any situation? Probably not, but I’m going to see how people react to the advice.
On a side note, underlying the situation is a very old question  – are traits learned or genetic?

(the image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker)

Being a manager is about helping people get the most out of what they do while growing and improving. I’ve always wondered how one can help the other look for himself into the strength to do more.

Then I stumbled on this question from this site, skeptic exchange, about how to motivate kids. The results of the research are surprising but very logical after you think about it from the children perspective

Here are two situations:

The child gets a good note and receives a positive feedback: “you did great, you are so smart”

What is the meaning to the child? That he succeeded due to an unknown factor, out of his control. What would happen next time? Can he be ready to use it again? What will happen if it fails?

I’d better not test it again as I might fail

 

 

The child gets a good note and receives a positive feedback “you did great, what a great effort you put in”

What is the meaning for the child? That he succeeded due to his control, due to his work. What can he do next time? Since the effort is controlled he can decide to use it again and succeed

I’ve been describing the situation from a child’s view, but I don’t think that the basic analysis is different from emotional perspective. Adults have the same fears and doubts, only less obvious.

Why the different reaction important for a manager? This is one of the few cases where clear advice is given – to praise the result of the work.

Is this advice true for any situation? Probably not, but I’m going to see how people react to the advice.

On a side note, underlying the description is a question very old – are traits learned or genetic?

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