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What to reward, celebrate, and praise

Rewarding achievement can backfire.

But so can rewarding effort. 😮

If we only reward achievement, we risk fostering fixed mindsets.

It can encourage others to start setting the bar low to make sure they meet it. It can also lead them to start hiding their flaws and mistakes, and to lie to themselves and others, to make sure they get the golden star.

But the answer is not simply to reward effort.

Rewarding effort can lead others to pretend to work hard or spend time mindlessly going through the motions, if they don’t believe that what they’re doing will lead to progress.

They may not think deeply about what they’re doing or try different strategies if what they’re doing is not working.

So, what can we do?

Besides observing how hard someone appears to be working, we can reflect on how much progress they’re making.

If they’re improving their skills, it’s great to celebrate and reward their behavior.

On the other hand, rewarding someone who is not making progress might encourage them to keep doing what’s not working. It also sends the message that we don’t truly believe they can improve.

In a true growth mindset, people achieve greater progress and higher results. If this isn’t happening, then we need to ask why, figure out what to change, and try different strategies.

If others are stuck, we can ask questions to help them reflect on what to change.

Are you praising and rewarding only achievement? Ineffective effort? Effective effort? 🤔

And regardless of the type of praise, might you be praising too much rather than also asking questions that prompt reflection, and modeling the way? 🤔

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