Study: More-Supportive Bosses Produce Best-Performing Employees

June 1, 2016

5:00 pm

Greatness comes in many forms. Some people are great because they discover something. Some people are great because they invent something. Some people are even great because they’re really good at cutting cheese. But when it comes to your professional career, greatness often comes in the form of leadership. And if you aren’t instilling confidence in your employees, you probably don’t have either.

Confidence Breeds Greatness

According to a recent behavioral study, employees that are rarely praised are typically worse workers. The study conducted research within a single multinational corporation with hundreds of managers. They were rated on their likelihood to grade their employees. Then, the performance of employees beneath these mangers were recorded on a five-point scale. The results were staggering.

51 percent of employees under “negative-rating” managers were deemed merely “competent” when it came to their job performance. Only 18 percent of employees under “positive-rating” managers scored similarly. Even worse, 14 percent of harshly-graded workers were said to be in need of “some improvement,” a significant difference from the 3 percent of easily-graded workers.

“The people who’d received more positive ratings felt lifted up and supported,” said Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, authors of the study. “And that vote of confidence made them more optimistic about future improvement. Conversely, subordinates rated by the consistently tougher managers were confused or discouraged – often both. They felt they were not valued or trusted, and that it was impossible to succeed.”

Peers Value Confidence

This research went further in explaining the value of confidence in the work place. Not only did these positively-rated employees perform more impressively at work, but they also appeared to be better leaders to coworkers. There was a substantial 15 percent difference between how coworkers evaluated leadership in employees that receive praise on a regular basis.

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Duh, Right?

While tough love has been a “tried and true” method in parenting for a long time, professional motivation takes more than a loud voice and a throbbing vein in your forehead. At this point in the game, scaring employees into working harder is not only ill-advised but it’s borderline illegal. Closers can’t be the only ones that get coffee anymore. Facilitating an environment of support and confidence will improve the productivity of your workers as well as alleviate the stress of running a business like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glenn Ross.

While it might sound like I’ve just enrolled in a yoga class that takes place in the middle of a dandelion field, can’t we all just get along? Yes, there are certain situations where tough love can get you the results you want. But it has been proven time and time again that positivity goes a lot further than tearing someone down. Whether it be the education system in Finland or the business model in Denmark, positivity works better than anything else.

Photo: Flickr / john mccsporran

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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