Why Companies Use Negative Reinforcement and Punishment
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2009
Have you ever thought that your employees should perform to the standards you expect because that is what they are paid to do?
If so you are a casualty of negative reinforcement.
If you expect your people to perform without positive reinforcement then your employee behavior is being managed by negative reinforcement. What you can expect then is your people to perform to just that standard and nothing beyond that. Initiative, ownership, buy-in and volunteerism are almost never produced by negative reinforcement.
Were you aware of this? Few companies in this competitive environment can afford to have their employees working just to the standard performance level. We need our employees working above and beyond to build a growing business.
So why do companies continue to use negative reinforcement? The most common reason is failure to understand the science of human behavior. Did you realize that you were using negative reinforcement by expecting your people to perform to your standards because that’s what they are paid to do? Few universities teach behavior analysis and few companies recognize the importance and value that this can have to impact their business. Put simply most businesses don’t know what they don’t know.
The other reason is financial. In most companies how people are compensated is not based on performance. We only need to see some of the enormous bonuses given to executives from failing company for a prime example of this.
We reward the wrong behavior because that’s how it’s been done in the past. We don’t understand the science of human behavior so we continue to compensate how we’ve seen others do it. Daniels is not opposed to paying employees more; he just feels they should be compensated based on performance. Several studies provide evidence of this. Bill Abernathy’s book Managing Without Supervising
showed that in 12 companies using his behaviorally sound pay-for-performance system, the performance increase in the first year averaged 33.1 %.
We’re going to examine the 13 management practices that waste time and money specifically so you can see whether you agree with them or if you feel your business needs to make some changes. The mistake you can make after reading this is simply not to do anything and trust that what you know about human behavior is accurate.
Daniels points out that when you ask most people about positive reinforcement most will say they already know. To a certain extent that’s true, yet he points out that when college students were asked where a ball would land if dropped by a person walking; only 45% knew the ball would travel forward before it fell.
The point here is what you don’t know about human behavior is impacting your business performance. Exploring these 13 management practices should help illuminate how much you know about human performance and how it’s affecting your business.
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