Just Keep Doing What You’re Doing, Great Job, Good Work

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.

How easy it is to read this story as more evidence about soft millennials in the workplace, or to accept its deliberate framing as a helpful update on the latest and greatest management strategies.

Or could it be: Resorting to positive reenforcement is the only possible response to a realization that diminished expectations for reliable long-term employment, even for relatively well-paid professionals, has resulted in a commensurate lack of employee tolerance for institutional behavioral correction, and that, besides, what kind of employees that are subject to regular “performance reviews” aren’t also replaceable, so why not just pat them on the head right up until you show them out the door?