When Walter Isaacson published his biography of Steve Jobs, many people noticed that Jobs employed a management technique that sometimes relied on berating his employees, sometimes to the point of tears. While a little bit of tough love can have some short-term benefits, it can have detrimental long-term effects, leading to employee burnout and turnover. Github’s Zach Holman writes about the effects of positive feedback on the workplace:
I think our industry does feedback really poorly. I sure as hell do. My first impulse whenever I see a comp is to shit on it. Honestly. Even if it looks great. Especially if it looks great. We instinctively want to pick apart any deficiencies as soon as possible because that’s how product is created. We build things incrementally, chipping away the rough edges until we have a clean polished surface underneath it all.
His advice? Give it a second:
If I see a monumentally bad idea come across my inbox, I’ve been trying to first let it simmer for a few hours or days. It’s surprisingly made me a much happier human. You don’t get suckered into as many passionate debates because you’re able to come into the discussion with a much cooler head. Many times I end up seeing why the decision was made in the first place. There are always a myriad of tiny invisible decisions that go into building a product, and you can’t understand all of them three minutes into glancing at someone’s work.