High Performance Teams (and Marriages): The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio | Talent and Performance Development | Scoop.it
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.



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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.

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"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 average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one).

The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.)

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..Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they're doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity.
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But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.

...Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they're doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity.

Perhaps that's why we have found with the vast majority of the leaders in our database, who have no outstanding weaknesses, that positive feedback is what motivates them to continue improvement. In fact, for those in our database who started above average already (but are still below the 80th percentile), positive feedback works like negative feedback did for the bottom group.

Focusing on their strengths enabled 62% of this group to improve a full 24 percentage points (to move from the 55th to the 79th percentile).