General Question

yankeetooter's avatar

Positive feedback from one's job is nice, but does it ever become meaningless?

Asked by yankeetooter (9651points) April 29th, 2011

Every Friday we have a meeting at the end of the day before we go home. A common practice is for people to write “props” for each other…a small piece of paper put into a box with something positive you saw this person do, who it’s to, and who it’s from…To encourage this, our principal has little contests, e.g., whoever’s prop is pulled out first gets 2 hours leave, etc.

My gripe is this…whenever we have a contest like this, people write 30 props saying, “To such and such, for doing a great job.” Understand, they write the same thing for all 30 people. This cheapens the whole process and makes it meaningless to me. If you can’t point out something specific that person did during the week, you’re obviously just trying to win the contest, and keeping me there later while they read all 30 props…(Sorry, but this really yanks my chain!)

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

Pandora's avatar

Yes, when time and time again you get told you are doing such a great job and yet you get passed over for promotion or you don’t get a pay increase or any kind of bonus. Then you just feel used after a while.
Its like saying, we recognize all your hard work but truly we think we are so great that you should just be happy that we noticed you.
You can’t provide for your family on just words.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s up to the boss to keep the contest legit. If he or she allows meaningless props the contest itself is meaningless and a waste of everyone’s time. Is there any way to bring this up with him or her.

yankeetooter's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe She doesn’t handle even constructive criticism well…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@yankeetooter I was afraid of that. That’s probably why someone else has pointed this out.

wundayatta's avatar

Praise has to be specific or its useless, in my opinion. If people tell me something generic about myself, I never believe it. They’re just saying that, but it doesn’t mean anything real. If someone praises something specific and explains why they think it is good or helpful, then I believe it, because they’ve given me reason to believe it.

Meaningless praise is worse than no praise at all. It makes people distrust anything the praiser said. We’re not supposed to throw praise at our kids every time they pick their noses, as some parents think they are supposed to do. We want our kids to have good self esteem, but in order to that, they need to feel like they’ve earned the praise.

Adults are the same. They might act all happy and peppy, but inside they know when the king has no clothes.

Mandatory praise is equally useless. People need to say things voluntarily in order for it to be believable. Praise that is solicited, again, is worse than no praise at all. It always leaves open the question of whether the person is making something up or not.

I try to remember to tell people I like something they’ve done. So often, it’s easy to let it go by without letting the person know you’ve noticed something and appreciated it. But the way I would do this is by trying to remind people to speak words of appreciation when something happens, not at some staged meeting where most of the praise is for show.

dabbler's avatar

When it’s automatic it’s worth as much as a fortune cookie.
Hopefully your performance reviews are more thoughtful and constructive.
It’s usually not their fault but most managers got their positions with no training whatsoever. Worse yet they’ll base their management practice on the whole string of untrained managers they’ve had in their lives.

creative1's avatar

Sometimes people get overlooked for great jobs they do and I think your boss is trying to find a way to thank people for going above and beyond. He just hasn’t found the right instrument in which will work. Bribing people with time off to give a compliment is not a good way to go about it.

See we would start our weekly staff meeting that way but it wasn’t for something, it was truly a way to thank and bring attention to everyone what a great job someone had done. Even the management team would get involved in it when they wanted to thank someone or a group of people who worked hard on a project or special task. I think if done right it can be a very positive tool. We also used to have these things called spirit cards that we could send people to thank them for something they did for us. These were often read in the meetings when someone went above and beyond for a fellow associate. When you work for a very large company that spans across the US and into other countries as well having a way to thank someone in a special way that also brings it to the attention to their managers is really a positive attribute.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you have to do it, the rule should be one “prop” per person. If someone submits 2 or more the contest is voided.
You could stuff the ballot box with 200 props – anonymously, of course. – to make the point.

linguaphile's avatar

I’m trying to decide which is worse… the empty praise notes, nonexistent praise, or generalized “everyone did a good job” praise.

geeky_mama's avatar

I recently moved from working really hard for a team where praise was non-existent to a team where there is genuine camaraderie and kudos for a job well done. Not every job every time—but consistently when extra effort is visible and contributes to helping out the collective team.

When I switched teams (same company, different role) I was immediately overwhelmed (in a positive way) with all the genuine positive feedback this new team shares.

Not that we don’t get constructive criticism—we do.
But the constructive criticism is balanced by recognition for a job well done and lots of what I think of as “supportive nods”.. people acknowledging when a lot is being ask of you or saying: “Hmm, that sucks that you have to travel on a Sunday” or “That isn’t a reasonable request that the customer is making – let’s see if we can push back.”

@linguaphile – I think “everyone did a good job” is the same as nonexistent praise which is the same as empty praise.

If the praise isn’t genuine, specific and limited to above-average efforts (which it doesn’t sound like it is at @yankeetooter‘s workplace) it’s not really positive feedback then is it?

linguaphile's avatar

@geeky_mama You’re so fortunate to be in a positive workplace! I’ve worked in places where praise was nonexistent, but criticism was frequent and harsh. I really believe it makes the workplace dysfunctional because people start to only look out only for themselves, put others under microscopes, and just have this whole distrusting vibe. Even the best, most positive worker becomes a prune in that environment. I’m glad I at least experienced that environment because it made me know what to appreciate about workplaces. I haven’t been forced to be part of “forced praise” situations, but I can imagine that it’s more demoralizing than rapport-building.
A tangent—there’s a web site run by Dr. Gary Namie, called Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute. It’s a rich source of information about workplace trauma and how to improve workplace climates.

geeky_mama's avatar

@linguaphile – I am truly fortunate. I’ve worked in some truly dysfunctional workplaces before, too (and have some pretty cringe worthy stories of bad bosses in the past)..which makes me appreciate my current position so much I feel like I’ve won the lottery most days.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther