“But then, as the manager, I have to stick around to see if they actually complete the task,” moaned Shirley. “Why can’t they just do it the way I showed them?”
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “If you tell them about the new procedure, show them the new procedure. Get them to try the new procedure. Then leave. How long will they continue to perform in the new way?”
Shirley shook her head. “60 seconds! That’s it. As soon as I leave, they go back to the way they did it before.”
“Shirley, you are focused on what you do before the new behavior. What could you do differently after the behavior to get a different result?”
“You mean, stick around and watch longer?” she said. It sounded like a question, but it was more of a statement.
“And if you stuck around longer, what else could you do to get a different result?”
“I guess I could correct them if they did it wrong.”
“And if they did it right?” I prompted.
“I could tell them they did it right?” Now, it was a question.
“Yes, and what else?” I asked.
“Ask them to do it again?” The picture came into focus for Shirley.
“Yes, ask to see it again. Smile. Ask other people to watch how well it was done. Smile again. Tell her you want her to practice and that you will be back in ten minutes to watch again.
“If you want someone to acquire a new behavior, telling and demonstrating only gets it started. If you want the behavior to be repeated, you have to design rapid fire frequent positive reinforcement after the behavior. Watching, smiling, paying attention, encouraging. What gets reinforced gets repeated.”