PraiseRemember all the hand-wringing a few years back about the praise being heaped upon children of the day? The every-child-is-a-winner notion? The concern, according to the experts, was that excessive self-esteem stroking would breed children with huge egos and senses of entitlement to match.

Guess what? Those children are all grown up and entering the workforce. Are you prepared to deal with them?

A recent Wall Street Journal article explores how that “culture of praise” has penetrated the workplace. “Employers are dishing out kudos to workers for little more than showing up,” the article reads. “Corporations including Lands’ End and Bank of America are hiring consultants to teach managers how to compliment employees. The 1,000-employee Scooter Store has a staff ‘celebrations assistant’ whose job it is to throw confetti — 25 pounds a week — at employees. She also passes out 100 to 500 celebratory helium balloons a week. The Container Store estimates that one of its 4,000 employees receives praise every 20 seconds, through such efforts as its ‘Celebration Voice Mailboxes.’

“Certainly, there are benefits to building confidence and showing attention,” the article continues. “But some researchers suggest that inappropriate kudos are turning too many adults into narcissistic praise-junkies. The upshot: A lot of today’s young adults feel insecure if they’re not regularly complimented.”

On the other hand, is it really that big of a deal? If employees seem to need a lot of positive reinforcement, “we can ignore that and have them be disgruntled,” corporate consultant Bob Nelson told The Wall Street Journal, “or we can praise them. By encouraging and praising them, you’ll get more out of them.” A sidebar to the article offers constructive advice for employers and employees alike.

What do you think? Are we too quick to praise? Does it matter? How do you handle it in your organization?

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