Charles Starrett


Blog, links, and…

Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.


Presence beats performance

What if we have performance evaluations all wrong?

What if the way to excellence in an organization isn’t to focus on employee performance, but on employee qualities and character?

In her ground-breaking work on learning, Psychologist Carol Dweck discovered that student performance improved when success was acknowledged by praising the person’s effort rather than their results, and when failure was acknowledged by praising the person’s resilience rather than focusing on the failure.

In both cases, the focus is on the qualities or character of the person, rather than the results that they achieved.

In our results-oriented business world this may seem counter intuitive, but to get better results we need to separate our sense of self-worth from our performance. If we can support each other as unconditionally valuable human beings separately from our performance, then it frees us up to be more honest about results.

There’s no need to feel defensive or even cover up failure if it’s not personal. If success and failure are more honestly seen as a result of a whole system which includes me, us, and many other factors, then we can create a more psychologically safe workplace to support greater creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

It’s not easy to undo decades or centuries of human conditioning that has tied our productivity to our self-worth, but the sooner we can make that shift, the sooner we can work together with our full potential to innovate a world which supports the well-being of all.

9 August 2022

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