Reward and Redirect in the Work Setting-Part-II

Reward and Redirect in the Work Setting-Part-II

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

In an earlier article, I described how the wisdom acquired by whale trainers during the training of whales could be utilized for enriching the lives of human beings you're responsible for. Ken Blanchard in his latest book, Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships, has done a superb job of drawing the parallels between training whales and training humans to reach their fullest potential.

Good teachers, trainers or managers are essentially "people growers." To grow people, you have to motivate them for action and as they act, support and nurture them. Whether you are a leader, teacher, supervisor or a parent, Ken Blanchard recommends that we learn the "ABCs" of the human behavior in which "A" stands for Activator, "B" for Behavior and "C" for Consequence.

Don't settle for merely motivating people, "light a fire" under them. You must find the "activator" for the individual under your charge that would stimulate him or her to perform the desired behavior.

The word "consequences" has come to mean something negative, like a punishment. Performance specialists say that we tend to underutilize the power of the positive.

Here is what one specialist heard from an employee during an industrial survey:
Specialist: "How do you know that you're doing a good job?"
Employee: "When I haven't been chewed out lately by my boss."
Specialist: "What happens when you do something right?"
Employee: "Nothing happens! Nobody says anything!

A typical consequence of an appropriate or desirable behavior is no response at all. If people under our charge are doing fine, we leave them alone. We shy away from praising them, lest "The praise go to their heads."

A typical consequence of an inappropriate or undesirable behavior is a negative response. When they do wrong, we zap them.

A typical management approach used with children as well as adults the "leave-alone or zap" approach. It is a miracle that most people learn and do the right thing in spite of such a tactless approach.

By ignoring or not responding to positive behavior, we might be conveying the wrong thing to others. The person on the receiving end of our approach might think to himself or herself, "If I do my job right, nobody cares. What's the point of working so hard!"

An inappropriate behavior is nothing but a release of energy into an inappropriate channel. Redirecting the energy into a harmless action is one way to get a person back on track.

Watchmen tend to doze off when everything under their watch appears normal. When employees at work or children at home are doing well we tend to "doze off." But, as Yogi Berra would tell you, "It ain't right." So, you make sure that you wake up and say something nice when everything is going well.

If you're someone who had been using the "Gotcha" approach and want to become a "Whale Done!" person, admit that you were wrong. Call the employee, your child or whoever bore the brunt of your approach, sit them down and admit by saying something to the effect, "I had been jumping all over you when you made a mistake and took it for granted when you did well. That was wrong and I want to change it."

You can further empower the other person by inviting them to keep a tab on you. Tell them in words to the effect, "If I go back to my old style, draw my attention to it right away." From there on, instead of "Gotchas" use a lot of "Whale Dones!" "Whale Done!" is Ken Blanchard's pun for "Well Done!"

The key to having a good relationship, be it with a whale, employee, child or spouse is to accentuate the positive and redirect the negative. Instead of focusing on what they do wrong, pay attention to what they do right.

The book gives an example of two sisters who behave totally differently. The frustrated mother complains, "Sally does so well but Becky never seems to do things quite right. I wish she were more like her sister."

How come one sibling becomes the model of good behavior and the other of bad behavior? One reason could be that one sibling is riding on the wave of "Whale Dones!" and the other one caught in game of "Gotchas."

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Copyright 2002, Mind Publications 


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