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Managers should coach, not criticize

Reward and recognition programs can motivate good performance, but when employees do fall short, managers need to take action.

Reward and recognition programs can motivate good performance, but when employees do fall short, managers need to take action. The way that a supervisor handles shortcomings makes a big difference in future worker behavior. Research has shown that criticism can actually inhibit people from improving, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goldman explained in the Harvard Business Review. Therefore, managers must carefully navigate how they review problematic performance with employees.

According to Goldman, brain imaging research has demonstrated that coaching based on aspirations affects the brain differently than critical instruction. Talking primarily about shortcomings causes employees to shut down, he said, whereas a more positive approach activates areas of the brain that are open to new possibilities.

This does not mean that management is only about rewards and praise. Employees want their bosses to be honest, and that includes being forthcoming in performance feedback.

“Fully explain what the issue is, and then expand on options for improvement,” Bill Peppler told Business Daily News. “Also, let employees know where this improvement can take them, such as a promotion to a management role.”

The source recommended including honest, constructive criticism in reviews as part of a dialog between managers and employees about working together to reach new goals.

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