But, I Give Them Feedback?

“But, I give them feedback,” protested Tyler. “They know how to do it right. Why won’t they just do it the way they are supposed to?”

“You want your team members to work the line in a specific sequence in a specific way?” I replied. “You are looking for very specific behaviors?” Tyler nodded his head in agreement.

“When they do it wrong, do you pay attention to them?” I asked.

“Of course. I am usually right on it,” Tyler replied.

“And when they do it right, are you right on it?”

“Well, when they do it right, they just do it right. When they do it right, I don’t yell at them.”

“Tyler, to get desired behaviors, you have to reinforce those behaviors in a positive way. Yelling at people for doing something wrong doesn’t teach them to do it right. Yelling just creates avoidance from doing it wrong. That avoidance behavior can by very erratic and unpredictable. They don’t know whether to scream or eat a banana.

“On the other hand, if you positively reinforce desired behavior, it becomes repeated and predictable.

“So, Tyler, you tell me. What has more value, erratic avoidance behavior or positively reinforced predictable behavior?”

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3 thoughts on “But, I Give Them Feedback?

  1. Kevin Black

    Hahaha! “They don’t know whether to scream or eat a banana.” That’s gold!

    In my experience, avoidance behaviour most often takes the form of people either covering up their mistakes to hide them, or setting someone else up to take the blame, finger-pointing. Those behaviours are poison in a workplace. Your post is interesting because it suggests finding the root cause of those behaviours and proactively addressing them before they happen! I am also a big fan of positive reinforcement for positive actions.

    1. Tom Foster

      Hi, Kevin, Thanks for you comment. What gets reinforced gets repeated. Managers are always reinforcing something. The hope is that the reinforcement is intentional and purposeful. -TF

  2. Karen W.

    This was a quick read but an interesting and TRUE post for sure…As a very new “boss” myself I am always thinking back to past experiences with ex employers who motivated me, angered me, scared me, etc and I try to use those positive experiences on my own employees! I also have been actively searching the internet for suggestions and proven methods of effective leadership. This post really reminded me of a book I just read, “Green Beans & Ice Cream” by author Bill Sims Jr. (http://greenbeanleadership.com/) This book also clearly points out that the thing we need the most, is the thing we often receive the least—positive reinforcement and feedback from those around us. This is true on a leadership level, with family, friends and even with your spouse. The theme of positive reinforcement plays a main role in this book and it stresses that as a leader we must constantly be improving how individuals feel about themselves, the work they’re doing and the results they’re achieving. It is very important to me give and receive positive reinforcement every day, for the simple fact that I have a strong desire to perform my duties better. Hope you give it a read!!


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