It's the secret to high-performing teams -- and strong marriages.
The research, conducted by academic Emily Heaphy and consultant Marcial Losada, examined the effectiveness of 60 strategic-business-unit leadership teams at a large information-processing company.
The factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams,...was the ratio of positive comments to negative comments...nearly six positive comments for every negative one.
"Effectiveness" was measured according to financial performance, customer satisfaction ratings, and 360-degree feedback ratings of the team members.
The factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams, Heaphy and Losada found, was the ratio of positive comments
- ("I agree with that," for instance, or "That's a terrific idea")
to negative comments
- ("I don't agree with you" "We shouldn't even consider doing that") that the participants made to one another.
The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.)
..Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they're doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity.