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Focus on Behavior to Improve Organizational Performance and Profitability

Behavior-based safety (BBS) has taught us that we can solve a performance problem by identifying, very specifically, the behaviors we want from employees and the behaviors we want them to stop. For instance, when we use behavioral problem solving in behavior-based safety, we identify a specific safety behavior that will decrease injuries—like putting on fall protection when working above four feet. Then we apply a tracking process to identify how frequently employees are doing so. Through observation (sometimes self-observation if the employee works alone), we get an approximate measure of how often the safe behavior is occurring.

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Positive Influence Requires Positive Interactions: Part I

Employee Engagement, Total Rewards Cultures, Emotional Intelligence, Six Sigma, Lean Principles, Employee Empowerment and many other initiatives all attempt to systematically explore employee intelligence and experience. Each initiative's processes and principles is grounded in the importance of people. The key objective of each initiative is to channel that value into improved organizational effectiveness.

Though these initiatives and others have been fashionable for years, widely implemented, and publicized as promoting pro-people values, approximately 48% of American employees leave their jobs because they don't like their supervisor. Between 70 and 80% of Americans report rudeness and incivility at work. About 41 percent of American workers report having been psychologically harassed at work at some point - most often by their boss.

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Engaging Work Dialogs

I begin this blog with a declaration that I intend to validate throughout the body of this entry: The key to employee engagement is emotional commitment which is in turn most closely linked to discretionary effort.Rewards, transactional positive reinforcement (supervisor occasionally using verbal reinforcement), and incentives in general do not change behavior in the long term; the biochemistry of the brain—serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters—the chemicals of employee engagement, of emotions and learning—are most effectively catalyzed through ongoing manager activities and attributes.Reinforcing work dialogs, which in turn build reinforcing manager-employee relationships, are the most effective means of eliciting employee emotional commitment to the job and the organization.

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Only Leaders Can Change a Culture

If you Google “Organizational Culture,” you get over 4,000,000 search results. Wikipedia has one of the first results, and as you scan the description you immediately began to blanch with confusion. If you work in a corporation that will soon undertake a “culture change” initiative, you may begin to tear up.Here is the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s description:

“Organizational culture, or corporate culture, comprises the attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values of an organization. It has been defined as the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization. Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members towards one another.” —Wikipedia

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