In his excellent recent book "59 Seconds: Think a little, Change a lot", Professor Richard Wiseman describes research done in the 1990s into the effect of praise on children.

The investigation carried out at Columbia University involved over 400 children between 10 and 12 and from a range of backgrounds.

The key finding of a series of experiments was that praising children for effort was far more beneficial than praising their intelligence or results.

Children praised for effort were more likely to find difficult problems enjoyable and to try to solve them in their own time. They felt encouraged to try regardless of the consequences and effectively avoided fear of failure. They were more motivated to try hard and more likely to be successful.

Other research has found similar results with both younger and older children

I suggest the same is likely to be true with adults.

Try praising the people you manage for their effort rather than their ability. Encourage them to try hard and attribute their success to their effort, rather than intelligence or some other innate trait.

Sustained over time, I believe you will find an increase in productivity and success amongst your people. And that more of them will be willing to "give it a go" rather than being reluctant to risk failure on the big challenges.

Tell me what you think.

I'd also love to hear from anyone who already uses this approach or who tries it as a result of this article.

Use the link below if you want to find Richard Wiseman's book on Amazon.

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