According to the theory of Losada, you need both, and one of the biggest differences between poor, average and high performing teams is not whether what's best, but the ratio of positive comments to negative ones. For the highest performing teams, research concluded that the ratio was 6:1
In training and coaching, lots of research has been done whether it is better to reinforce someone by telling them they are doing well (positive feedback, as in ‘That is a good idea’), or or by pointing out where they are failing (negative feedback, as in ‘You didn’t do well there’). Or maybe this is not the point. According to the theory of Losada, you need both, and one of the biggest differences between poor, average and high performing teams is not whether what’s best, but the ratio of positive comments to negative ones. For the highest performing teams, research concluded that the ratio was 6:1 (in other words, six positive remarks against one negative).
Let’s try it out
At CUTESolutions, we experience a healthy feedback culture (and without bragging, the cuties are a high performing team!). So we decided to find out what our ratio Losada is! One week long, every day, the back office of CUTESolutions counted how much positive and negative feedback they gave to each other. Your cuties aka test subjects to the rescue!
When counting our feedback, we noticed that we didn’t give six times more positive feedback in order to balance the negative one. But the overall calculation showed that we did give more positive feedback than negative.
Maybe you wondered: shouldn’t one positive comment just neutralize a negative? Well, no. Research has proven we naturally give more weight to negative feedback, so it takes more positives to balance the negatives out. Zenger and Folkman explain in their Harvard Business Review why this doesn’t shake the fact that both positive and negative are important.
Only positive feedback motivates people to keep doing what they are doing well, and maybe (hopefully) even better. In other words: positive feedback motivates for improvement. But negative feedback can tell us if it is really time to behave differently! If you receive the feedback that your performance isn’t yet what is expected, you can be equally motivated to work harder (and still reach your targets). Also, people getting the most negative feedback have the most room to grow. Research shows that leaders really benefit from negative feedback to overcome some weaknesses. So, like Zenger and Folkman say: “both negative and positive feedback have their place and time”. But make it a habit to move the proportion closer to more positive than negative ones.
I really hope you all enjoyed this blog and please leave some feedback or your opinion in the comment section below!