There's a lot of debate over whether effort should be praised over achievement. According to an Inc article, both are important — and there's an easy way to incorporate each into your feedback.
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We've talked about praising effort over achievement when dealing with your children, but it's something that you can apply to everyone in your life. Jeff Haden of Inc suggests that if you praise people only for their achievements it can cause a "fixed mindset" to occur. People with a "fixed mindset" believe that their intelligence, ability and skill are fixed from the moment they are born, and that only certain people are able to achieve good things.
Haden isn't suggesting that you just hand out high praise for every single effort like a participation ribbon though. He believes there is a way to praise both effort and achievement cooperatively:
...there's another way: Make sure you focus on praising effort and application, too:
- "That didn't go perfectly, but you're definitely on the right track. Let's see what we can do to make it go even better next time."
- "Hey, you finished that project much more quickly this time. You must have worked really hard."
- "Great job! I can tell you put a lot of time into that."
The difference? You still praise results, but you praise results that are based on the premise of effort and not on an assumption of innate talent or skill. By praising effort, you help create an environment where employees feel anything is possible.
You don't want the people you're praising to feel like every mistake they make is a failure. Eventually they may give up, assuming they just aren't capable. You can avoid creating that kind of environment by helping to develop in them a belief that they get can better at anything over time.