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Bad Performance is Your Responsibility

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Nov 22, 2010

If your business and specifically your people are producing the wrong outcomes it’s very important that you understand this.  Every company is getting the performance it should be because it’s reinforcing that performance with what it is currently doing.  If you’re not happy with what you’re getting you need to put consequences in place that stop these outcomes and then put new consequences in place to positively reinforce the new outcome you want.  The bad news is you’re reinforcing the wrong things or you wouldn’t be getting that performance.  The good news is you can change it with some diligence.

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Vic Dungus, technical associate at Eastman Chemical Co points out in Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey Daniels that, “a company is always perfectly designed to produce whatever it is producing.”   If you’re business is having trouble with quality, cost, productivity, absenteeism, whatever the issue, the behaviors associated with those negative outcomes are being reinforced.  Daniels agrees and states this is the hard, cold reality of human behavior. 

If you’re struggling with any challenge or frustration in your business, recognize both the good and bad here.  First you are responsible.  Second you can get it changed. 

You can introduce and arrange consequences in ways that tasks that are now difficult, dull or boring can become exciting, challenging and rewarding.  It is definitely doable.

To achieve the performance you want you need to identify the behaviors that are producing the poor outcome and arrange consequences that will stop them.  Then identify the behaviors that will produce the desirable outcomes and arrange consequences that will positively reinforce them.   

Take a look at your business.  Are only the value added behaviors you desire being strengthened by consequences in your present work environment?  Are off-task behaviors being reinforced in some manner?  It’s possible, and probably very likely that some of the behaviors that you want punished or penalized are actually be reinforced.

Strategic discipline requires recognition of how management and policies are reinforcing the wrong behavior.  It takes time, collective intelligence, and communication through meeting rhythms and monitoring of metrics to become aware of how your business is affecting performance and in many cases how it is reinforcing behavior that is producing the wrong outcome.   Is it time you examined your business to discover where you are reinforcing behaviors you don’t want?

Topics: Bringing Out the Best In People, employee performance, Aubrey Daniels, positive reinforcement

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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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