It’s true that people don’t come with instruction manuals, but don’t fret. Human behavior, albeit unpredictable, is a process like any other part of an operation and can be managed as such. Gaining an understanding of this process will help produce a stress-free and profitable working atmosphere. If an employee is engaging in behavior to achieve something (positive reinforcement), he or she will constantly try to improve in order to attain more of it. But if an employee is trying to avoid a penalty, he or she will only work hard enough to avoid the consequence, essentially producing only the bare minimum. Positive Reinforcement
If you want to improve your performance at something, or if you want to create new good habits, one very successful technique is the use of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is effective and largely used for two separate reasons. Firstly, it is one of the most powerful techniques available for the direction or motivation of the actions of other people. The second reason which is more philosophical is the versatility of the concept of reinforcement as an explanation of behavior. In other words, the question is why do people behave the way they do? The answer will be that it is because they (people) are reinforced for it.
Many companies employ the use of positive reinforcements to increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and workplace accidents. When positive reinforcements are used, the desired outcome is that the behavior is reinforced. Subjects understand that the behavior is desirable and will tend to repeat it for the rewards. Validating employees by telling them how much you appreciate what they do goes a long way in the employee satisfaction and motivation department. How do you think it makes them feel if you can’t even bother to take the time to give them a verbal pat on the back?
Not too important, I assure you. I work as a Customer Service Associate, and I deal with retirees from GM and Chrysler Auto companies. Most of these people are in their 70’s-90’s age group and they are very confused about what is happening with their medical coverage and the whole transitions from their auto company managing their benefits to my company. What makes me get up everyday and go to work is to know that I am able to assist these customers with the confusion they may be having about all the information and mailing materials they received. At my ob we have what we call a “kudos” email; it is when a customer speaks to a manager about what a great job an associate has done with assisting them. Just getting recognized for doing your job well is motivating enough to make me get up and go to work. So get positive – and get specific. Tell them what specific things they are doing that you like. Be specific!! Not only does this make your employee feel important and appreciated, but it helps them to perform better by having a frame of reference for the kinds of workplace performance and behavior that you value as a manager. Negative Reinforcement Strategy Examples
Being a part of team that involves over twenty people is tough but not impossible. Generally speaking the judicial part of the criminal justice system has many areas that must mesh well together in order to function on a daily basis. Each part of that system must know the purpose of the court and what it needs to succeed. A manager or supervisor should be able to use various types of reinforcement strategies to deal with employee situations or issues. One type is the negative reinforcement strategy which is used to encourage desirable behavior through the withdrawal of negative consequences for previously undesirable behavior.
An example of this through personal observation is during my tenure as court clerk in the local county courthouse, personal phone calls were tolerated but only for a certain amount of time. It was told to staff that personal calls should be 5 minutes or less. Anytime longer than that on the phone and a fifteen minute break had to be taken. Several co-workers continually violated this rule and middle managers would hand them a post it note to say get off the phone or take your break. After several times of prodding, one co-worker finally got the hint and stayed off the phone.
She did not receive notes that day and neither the middle manager nor supervisor had anything more to say to her. They had achieved the desirable behavior through negative reinforcement and took notice to not say a thing to the employee about her behavior. Another example of negative reinforcement is email notices sent to all employees by the middle manager. She would send reminders about tardiness, leave requests, filing fees and proper filing intake procedures. This was mainly sent to the counter court clerks because they were the ones constantly abusing some of the procedures.
There would be periods of time when the emails would be sent for about a good month. Then they would stop because the desired behavior was achieved and she did not feel the need to remind employees. As a court employee, it was necessary to follow the rules and procedures set forth by the Administrative Office of the Courts. This office manages all courts in Arizona and sets standards that all courts must abide by. Each year training is done for a week and CLE (Continuing Learning Education) credits are earned by employees. Each court personnel must achieve an eighteen credit minimum throughout the year.
Failure to do so could result in reprimand. One of the key courses required is the Ethics class. It is offered so that employees are reminded of ethical issues that arise in the court system and how to handle them. As told by the instructor, it’s given so employees cannot ever say they do not know what ethics is. Since it was a requirement it is then expected of the employee to have ethical values. If anything it allows the managing department, which is the Administrative Office of the Courts to demand the desired behavior of positive ethical work standards in the court system, without having to repeat it every day.
It is a learned process that develops over time. In regards to negative reinforcement strategies, it should be noted that it is used as a tool to manage employees so that they know what the expectations are. Once they understand and are aware of the consequences then the undesired behavior stops. This is how rules are implemented and enforced. It is key that a manager should also notice when the desired behavior has been achieved. If they fail to notice, it could result in an unhappy employee or unappreciated work environment. Continuous Reinforcement
Continuous reinforcement can be positive or negative. It is described as reprimanding or compensating a particular behavior whenever it transpires. Although continuous reinforcement can be either positive or negative, it is used to persuade a positive response. If a parent punishes their child for coming in past curfew and is consistent with the punishment their child receives for breaking curfew such as not letting him or her go out, taking away his or her phone and Internet privileges, etc… they will most likely come in on time when they are allowed to go out again.
If a child is persistent in honoring his or her curfew their parents will reward him or her. Both examples describe continuous reinforcement. At my current employment as a treatment specialist at a residential facility in which I work with delinquent youth we are constantly using continuous reinforcement. Residents have rules and regulations they must follow, if they follow program rules and display positive behaviors they will be compensated. Whereas some receive a pass to go home for the weekend others are allowed to go on outings and they also can earn money for their good behaviors.
If they display negative behaviors, they will not be allowed to leave the facility or participate in any activities and they do not earn any money. Of course we acquire the residents who maintain that they don’t care about missing activities or not being able to go home but when the positive residents return from their fun filled weekend the others began to display positive behaviors so they can participate in activities and have a chance to leave the facility. Continuous reinforcement is also used on employees by their supervisors.
At my job there is a five minute grace period when punching in after that employees will be docked for 15 minutes of pay and after the third tardy a written reprimand is issued, which states that the employee must be on time for the next 30 days or a suspension will be given. The rule does make employees arrive on time due to fear of losing money or being suspended. Until recently there was no enforcement of this rule, a number of employees were frequently late and continued to be compensated for it. Because there was no reinforcement employees ignored the rule and punctual employees and tardy employees were on the same level.
We must understand that continuous reinforcement may not always work in our favor because as always there can be a glitch in the method. We have to remember that it is not a good idea to compensate an individual for every good behavior. If we flood an individual with continuous reinforcement, he or she may become reliant on it, and it may lead to a belief that a reward will always be given. A positive response for continuous reinforcement can be achieved, if we make sure that the individual displaying negative or inappropriate behaviors understands what he or she is doing wrong and exactly why it is wrong.
Every employee no matter where they work need reinforcement to be productive. Whether they work in a courtroom, residential facility or even on the line at General Motors it is important to hear that you are performing well. This helps productivity and morale. There will be times when people are also given the negative such as get it done right or you won’t have a job. This is part of business but either way it is looked at reinforcement helps everyone through everyday life in the workplace, and as long as the reinforcement continues the positive outlook on the job will too.