Everything Is Awesome! Why You Can’t Tell Employees They’re Doing a Bad Job

February 10th, 2015 / No Comments »

If you don’t have anything nice to say, management has a tip: Try harder.

Fearing they’ll crush employees’ confidence and erode performance, employers are asking managers to ease up on harsh feedback. “Accentuate the positive” has become a new mantra at workplaces like VMware Inc., Wayfair Inc., and the Boston Consulting Group Inc., where bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation.

The shift may annoy leaders who rose in a tough-love era in business, but executives say hard-edge tactics simply do more harm than good these days.

When employees’ flaws are laid bare, “there’s that mental ‘ugh’ and shrug of, ‘This is who I am,’ ” says Michelle Russell, a partner at BCG.