Positive Influence:

Cutting Edge Ideas on Behavior-Based Safety, Quality and Leadership

Incentives, Teams and Behavior-Based Safety

Incentives, Teams and Behavior-Based Safety

Incentivization of performance outcomes has been around for a long time. In the field of safety, it has proven to be problematic in some cases and disastrous in others. Gaming the safety data is associated with incentives, particularly financial incentives. Often referred to as “pencil whipping,” early behavior based safety (BBS) processes were crippled by unreliable data. In that sense, the financial incentives contribute to unethical behavior. Often the seductive nature of large dollar rewards has motivated employees to do much worse than this.

When dollars were associated with the number of behavioral observations or with decreases in Recordable Injuries, the data was often proven to be inaccurate. One of the key principles developed from 70 years of scientific research into the cause of human behavior states that our behavior is driven by its consequences – that is when we do something, we focus on whether it works for us or not. If we turn the knob on the door, does the door open – a consequence related to our intention, the reason we performed the behavior.

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Quality Professionals Discover Human Behavior

Quality Professionals Discover Human Behavior

You may think I'm trying to be facetious with the title of this article, but you would be wrong. It is true; the emphasis on behavior in safety improvement efforts has crossed organizational lines and migrated into the realm of quality improvement. A quality professional somewhere noticed that focusing on safe behavior and unsafe behavior, defining each precisely so that everyone knew those behaviors were relative to their jobs, measuring the frequency of safe behaviors, and providing recognition for increases in safe behavior led to remarkable reductions in injury frequency.

That was the beginning. Then, he or she asked the most important question that has been posed to quality professionals in decades: "Isn't behavior important to implementing quality improvement initiatives and improving product quality?" Suddenly, an epiphany occurred; a realization of a fact too simple to even bother to deny: of course, behavior is an important element in quality—in many ways! Behavior is important in everything we do in an organization to fulfill our mission and reach our objectives.

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50 Years of Failed Initiatives: Why Behavior Based Safety and Other Initiatives Often Fail

50 Years of Failed Initiatives: Why Behavior Based Safety and Other Initiatives Often Fail

Quality initiatives, safety initiatives, and organizational change initiatives of every description often fail. The reason – the initiatives fail to change employee behavior – the way employees do things. The underlying fallacy that prevents change is leadership's belief that developing and communicating new ways of doing things will be accepted and practiced by employees. Old ways of doing their jobs are supported by strong habits, skills, behavioral shortcuts, and behavioral efficiencies. Most "improvement" initiatives require historically effective behaviors to be cast aside and replaced by new ways of doing things that require learning, practice, mistakes, and repetitive practice.

New behavior requires new consequences – positive feedback and positive reinforcement – to ensure the behaviors become habits. The things employees do prior to a change initiative are a function of what that behavior provides for the employee. Protective safety equipment is often uncomfortable to wear and many prescribed safety behaviors are time consuming and require extra effort; so that behavior leads to some negatives for the employee. Performers often do not perform behaviors because the consequences to them are discomfort and effort. In that sense, there is a payoff for not performing the safe behaviors and doing something unsafe

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Predictive Analytics and Human Resources: The Prospect of a Dangerous Combination

Predictive Analytics and Human Resources:  The Prospect of a Dangerous Combination

In a recent USA Today article by Rodd Wagner entitled “How Your Boss Could Be Spying On You,” Mr. Wagner provides a convincing discussion of the risk and liabilities a company faces should they decide to use statistics and computers to make decisions about their employee’s performance. It all looked so simple in the movie Moneyball; a statistician provides the coach with historical data on aspects of player performance behavior that more closely correlates with winning games than batting averages and home runs. Worked like a charm. Player on-base statistics provided a much better measure of winning than other statistics.

The analysis and prediction of human behavior has been practiced for many years and applied to many environments. Past shopping behavior has been evaluated to anticipate future product development and inventory.  Similarly, manufacturing decisions and raw material acquisition can be managed using predictive data derived from consumer purchasing behavior. There is little doubt that predictive analytics has been helpful in many aspects of improving business decisions.

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How to Identify the Behaviors That Lead to Success

How to Identify the Behaviors That Lead to Success

What is a “behavior analyst?” Behavior analysts are psychologists who specialize in arranging (designing) physical and social environments to elicit useful, productive, value-added human behavior(s). Behavior analysts are experts in changing human behavior. When I use the word behavior, I am referring to something a human says (verbal behavior) or does (non-verbal, physical behavior), and behavior analysts work with fine grained, very specific behaviors when the situation requires them to do so.

In business and industry, behavior analysts help organizations improve human performance. The core purpose of quality initiatives and management development efforts is to change employee behaviors. U.S. corporations spend billions of dollars trying to encourage their employees to do things differently (change their behavior)—to come up with new ideas, work more safely, improve interpersonal effectiveness (talk to employees in a manner that encourages engagement and commitment to the company’s performance goals), and do things to eliminate waste.

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Employees Don’t Want to be Praised; They Want to be Noticed

Employees Don’t Want to be Praised; They Want to be Noticed

The conventional perspective on positive reinforcement (words like recognize, acknowledge, compliment, reward are incorrectly uses as synonyms for positive reinforcement) is that you approach someone with a piece of positive information about something they have done and say, “John, you really did some good work on that job.”

It sounds great but unfortunately does not take into consideration the reality of the workplace. A manager or supervisor who has a history of being negative or has spent no time getting to know the employee such that they have no relationship, can create a negative employee reaction. The statement seems contrived and manipulative; that is, it is perceived to be provided with the objective of wanting something additional from the employee. At best it is perceived to express an underlying agenda. Often these kind of statements contradict the employees own sense of self-worth.

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