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The Dawn of Impatience – Increase Positive Reinforcement

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Tue, Jun 22, 2010

"Why do we have to do all this positive reinforcement stuff today?"  If you're a manager asking this question remembering when you didn't have to, recognize that the world has changed.

According to Aubrey Daniels Bringing Out the Best in People, the need for positive reinforcement became more acute in 1984 the first year Nintendo was widely available for sale.  The game didn't change the world, but the technology did. 

How many positive reinforcements does a person playing Nintendo receive?  Between 65-85 per minute!  Is it any wonder that we need to be aware of giving our people positive reinforcement?

Any child born since the late 1970's has not known a world without Nintendo or the games that have evolved since then.  Young people work at "twitch speed" what Hal Lancaster of the Wall Street Journal wrote to describe how the younger generation absorbs information. 

While workforce reinforcement has changed little in the past 50 years, reinforcement in everyday life has increased dramatically.  It will continue to do so.  Daniels cites the growing level of impatience that we all feel today which is driven by the high speed world we live in where we've come to expect that we shouldn't have to wait.  Generally patience increases as we age.  If you find that has not been occurring for you, you're not alone. ATM's, fast food, searches on the Internet, almost everything has increased in speed, and with the exception of plane travel, what hasn't is in danger of extinction.  

As business owners we need to recognize the need to adjust our tactics and strategies to this new degree of impatience plus increase the frequency of reinforcement to our people.  The next time you are looking for a manager or to improve your skills at motivating your employees consider the importance of understanding human behavior and positive reinforcement.  It can mean the difference between capturing the discretionary effort of your employees and having a serious problem with employee turnover.     

Topics: employee performance, positive reinforcement, human behavior

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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