Have you ever worked for someone whose reactions were unpredictable? One day they were giving positive feedback for success and the next day they were dressing you down for the same results? How did/would that make you feel? What impact would that have on your desire to achieve good results? For most of us the lack of predictability would create a reduction in motivation to succeed and show initiative. Research has shown that lack of predictability of consequences increases stress and that increased stress, beyond a certain point, reduces the ability of individuals to perform. When we know what to expect, we are less stressed and more likely to put out the effort required for success. Although we might not appreciate a “knit-picking” boss, we can live with it (for a while), if we know that it is his/her style and it is predictable. We all prefer working for someone who provides consistent positive feedback for success and consistent input (redirection) on how to be more successful when we fail.
It is always better to hold people accountable for their results in a predictable and consistent manner. As always, we recommend fair evaluation of results followed by consistent/predictable positive feedback for success and consistent/predictable redirection of actions that have led to failure.
By the way, parents, this goes for your children, too. They need to know that they can expect appropriate, consistent and predictable consequences when they succeed and when they fail.