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Paper Monitor

12:44 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

That Lucy Kellaway, who dissects office life for the Financial Times. She. Is. Brilliant.

Searingly insightful, always witty, and oh so wise. She will no doubt be delighted at this, should she happen to be a regular reader of yours truly.

In her column in today's salmon-pink paper, she admits to being a praise junkie:

I am exceedingly fond of being called a genius; even though I prefer to have genius status granted for big things, I'm prepared to accept it for any achievement at all, even for pressing send on my computer.

But, she wonders, does being fulsome and frequent with praise risk "pushing a drug that turns people into demotivated, infantile, praise-dependent junkies"?

This is all a bit close to the bone for Paper Monitor, who learnt its craft at the whip of a "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" editor who threw out only cursory and occasional scraps of encouragement - an approach to staff motivation that is increasingly rare, says Kellaway.

In the UK, all workers are called "talent" no matter how profoundly untalented they actually are, and even this is not enough. At KPMG, every member of staff is a genius. "We have 138,000 outstanding professionals," it says on its website, an exaggeration so gross that I would think twice before allowing KPMG anywhere near my audit.

She recalls a Columbia University study of about a decade ago, in which one group of 10-year-olds were praised for being clever, and another group for their perseverance. The former gave up when the tasks turned a little tricky; the latter merely worked harder.

Think on that, parents who turn to the newspapers for Easter holiday inspiration.

The Guardian has restarted its Kids* pages with an interactive short story competition.

And Young Times* in the Times has word puzzles and an inventor talking about his top 5 gadgets, and one he wishes existed - a karate training robot.

Perhaps young ______ and _____ [fill in name of child here] might like to give it a crack now school's out til the royal wedding bank holiday. Bet they will do a marvellous job, seeing how clever he/she/they is/are.

(*Unfortunately Paper Monitor's blog builder does not allow for wacky typefaces in which to appropriately render "Kids pages" and "Young Times", so you'll just have to imagine your own. Come on, you can do it...
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Well done. Good job!)

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