A CEO explains why telling your team 'great job!' isn't encouraging and positive -- it's unhelpful

  • Austin McChord is the CEO of data-protection company Datto.
  • He said managers shouldn’t constantly praise their employees’ work. The phrase “great job, everything was perfect” isn’t actionable or helpful.
  • Instead, managers should focus on what their team can do better.

Employees at Datto are lucky if they hear the phrase “good job!” three times a year.

Austin McChord, who is the CEO of the data-protection company, thinks workers should constantly be pushing themselves to get better, instead of resting on their laurels and assuming they have already achieved perfection.

McChord said as much in an interview with Adam Bryant on LinkedIn. “Focusing on what we’re not good at, and how to improve it, is pretty much what we do all day,” McChord said.

Hence the limit on how often employees receive praise for their work.

“As long as the feedback you provide is actionable, people will find it to be valuable,” McChord told Bryant. Comments such as, “Hey, here’s how we could do this a little bit better next time” tend to be appreciated.

On the other hand, McChord said, telling someone, “Great job, everything was perfect” is “not actionable” and is “almost unhelpful.”

Datto’s management strategy is a nice example of “radical candor,” a term coined by former Apple and Google exec and CEO coach Kim Scott. According to Scott, radical candor is about challenging directly and caring personally – i.e. giving negative feedback when necessary, but not in a mean way.

“It’s actually an act of kindness to tell somebody when they’re screwing up,” Scott previously told Business Insider.

McChord said giving constructive feedback directly is crucial in the modern workplace: “That level of honesty can be refreshing compared to a world where everything is likes and smiles and whatever sort of social media gloss that people try to put on their lives.”

Read the full interview on LinkedIn ยป

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