Too much or too little praise spoils the relationship

One of the cheapest ways to increase employee motivation and retention is through increasing the positive feedback that employees receive.  What that is required of managers is to pay attention to employees – “catch them doing things right” – and then tell the employee what they have done right and thank them for the consequent benefits to the team, the manager and the organisation.

But can there be too much of a good thing?

Researchers John Gottman and Barbara Fredrickson, authors of the book Positivity, have found that the optimal ratio of positive to negative is about 5 to 1.  Lower than that, workplaces become toxic, and individuals suffer from depression or leave.

But if the ratio gets too high (more than 13 to 1), says Fredrickson, it indicates that the manager is “ignoring negativity and weakness.” To be beneficial, positivity “must be grounded in reality.”

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