Companies such as VMware, Wayfair, and Boston Consulting Group are asking managers to "accentuate the positive" when speaking to employees and to give out frequent praise, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"Most employees feel unappreciated and criticism tends to overshadow appreciation or coaching, especially among young workers," Sheila Heen, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, tells WSJ.
Businesses have discovered lately that negative feedback can cause employees to lose confidence and perform poorly. Michelle Russell, a partner at BCG, tells WSJ that when the company used to bring people in for reviews and "beat them down a bit," she would notice some would leave the company due to declines in performance and confidence. Many who stayed would be rattled for days or weeks.
But can you just get rid of criticism? Don't employees need this feedback in order to improve? Management experts say that criticism can sometimes be motivational to employees--after all, they want to know where they stand. In a video segment accompanying the article, WSJ reporter Rachel Feintzeig clarified that most companies are not planning to get rid of negative feedback, but are looking to "change the balance."
Recent years have seen a rise in popularity of tools that aid managers in softening their approach toward employees. One example is Gallup's StrengthsFinder, which helps employees identify their top five talents. According to the Journal, StrengthsFinder was used by 467 members of the Fortune 500 last year.
Not all companies are jumping to switch to a softer approach, however. According to Feintzeig, Netflix's philosophy is "we are not a Little League team, we are a professional sports team--adequate performance [results in] a generous severance package."