Want Your Team to Perform Better? Try Positive Reinforcement.
Are you keeping up with your New Year’s resolution? If you're like most folks, you're probably hard at work on that new diet or workout program.
While you’re doing those next 25 crunches, ask yourself these questions: What’s my New Year's resolution for my business? What are the exercises that will help me and my team perform better at work this year?
That answer is positive reinforcement.
Behavioral scientists define positive reinforcement (PR+) as “any consequence that causes a behavior to repeat or increase in frequency."
Now, I’m not talking about employee of the month programs or company picnics. Nor am I referring to the annual performance reviews that create “winners” and “losers.” Studies show that these attempts at employee motivation often do more harm than good.
Think of it like this: You stick to your workout plan and lose a pound. Then another. Then another. You feel so good, you want to keep going.
That’s positive reinforcement at work.
In business, there are thousands of ways to provide PR+ for your team. From science, we know that PR+ has to be delivered immediately. And employee satisfaction research shows that two of the most powerful reinforcers are:
1. “I get to make a difference at work” and
2. “My boss has thanked me recently for what I do.”
You see, as business leaders we usually do a really good job telling our employees what they do wrong. But we forget to tell them what they do right. Studies show that over 70 percent of employees never hear their boss say “thank you.”
The key to being a great leader is ensuring that your management system provides positive reinforcement for your employees when they do something extra or just do something well. Just like a muscle, this practice needs to be done routinely and repeatedly for the best results.
When you and your leadership team fully understand and exercise the remarkable power of positive reinforcement, your business will thrive. High levels of employee engagement drive profitability for your business.
Bill Sims, Jr., is president of Bill Sims Behavior Change. For more than 30 years, he has helped companies improve performance and profitability through positive reinforcement. Bill’s book, Green Beans & Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and leading book stores globally.