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A Return to “Treat’em Mean and Keep’em Keen” Management?

Such claims that employees prefer tough bosses and negative feedback are retrograde and ignore recent neuroscience and motivation research that clearly show positive feedback and encouragement improve performance. Read More

Improvement or Regression

Likely, those managers who believe mean keeps keen are like instructor pilots who believe that praise leads to worse performance. They don't understand regression. Basically, in any situation where there is not perfect correlation between two variables, they will regress. Here's how it fools people: The student makes a perfect landing and the instructor praises the student. The next landing is not as good. So the instructor shouts at the student. The next landing is better. The instructor incorrectly decides that praise doesn't work while shouting does. In fact, the student, after the excellent landing, regressed to his or her normal performance. The same happened after the poor landing. This happens in every field and our mathematically-innocent cadre of MBAs simply do not realize this. To the detriment of their employees who, like the hapless student, are merely performing at their base rate, with variation.

Build up People

It is important to Value the opinion of the people doing the work day in and day out. Who better to seek feedback in regards to better efficiency and customer service than the workers on the ground? Building people up is always the more educated and cultured approach to increasing the efficiency of any team. My basketball coach always taught us that there is no I in TEAM. We went to State Finals that year!

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Ray Williams is the author of Breaking Bad Habits and The Leadership Edge.


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