You get the behavior you reward, not the behavior you want
The behavior that is reinforced is the behavior that is repeated.
Rewarded behavior is behavior that is repeated.
This simple, yet profound concept is at the root of poorer productivity, broken relationships, negative personal problems, and high costs of doing business than any other management principle, as well as top-performing organizations that grow and prosper every year.
What does the concept mean: you get the behavior you reward and what is the impact of this on the culture and overall performance of your organization?
Let me give you an example. You want an employee who is always late to be on time, but do not mention their lateness because it is only 10 minutes. Therefore, you want and expect the person to receive it; the policy is to be on time. But sadly, you don’t get your unspoken message and you keep running late. By not addressing this issue, you are sending the message that being late is acceptable behavior. You also send a message to other employees that they are on time, but may want to be late from time to time, that being late is fine.
There are two ways to reward behavior directly and indirectly. The example above is indirectly rewarding behavior, doing nothing. Here is an example of straightforward gratifying behavior. Let’s say you want your salespeople to spend more time getting new business, but your sales compensation program rewards only sales volume and not new account activity. DA, and you wonder why you have a problem?
There are thousands of ways that managers reward behavior they don’t want and then are surprised when they get more.
What behaviors do you reward in your organization that you need to change? An easy way to determine what these behaviors are is to observe the behavior and then determine why that person is acting that way. If you don’t like the behavior, you should change the reward system. I do not mean only economic rewards, but also social, physical, etc.
If you are in a relationship and all you do is criticize the other person according to your standards, don’t be surprised if they stop communicating with you. If you criticize a person’s clothing, attitudes, feelings, goals, or thoughts to the death, don’t be surprised if they don’t want to be around you. You get the behavior you reward.
The first step in changing behavior is recognizing the behavior that you would like to change. The next thing is to evaluate the reward system that exists, either directly or indirectly, why they act that way. Next, take a look at your own behavior and how you are contributing to the actions. This is not an easy task, but it will pay big dividends in productivity, improved morale, improved communication, and a better bottom line.