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Shocking Facts About Workplace Behavior

I thought I would record a few random, disjointed observations about behavior and positive reinforcement in the workplace in a sincere effort to shock and surprise  readers.

So, here are some observations you may find interesting:

  • One of a leaders key responsibilities is managing the behavior of his or her subordinates.
  • Changing someone’s behavior usually means changing your own behavior.
  • Many managers hire and promote average performers; high performers can be threatening and challenging.
  • Abusive leaders, managers and supervisors decrease profitability more than incompetence.
  • The reluctance of leaders to fire senior managers who perform poorly seriously erodes profitability.
  • Most managers would rather deal with numbers than with people; talking to people about their performance is emotionally aversive.
  • Most of our behavior attempts to influence the behavior of others.
  • What people say to each other and how they say it (tone of voice, facial gestures) may be the most important, controllable factor in a company’s profitability.
  • There is no such thing as “just business;” the workplace is highly emotional. Hierarchies sensitize individuals to the subtle nuances of language and non-verbal behavior from supervisors that reflect upon their value and stature.
  • Praising a subordinate in front of others can create as many problems as criticizing them publicly.
  • Weaknesses in subordinates are reinforcing to weak managers.
  • Initiative in subordinates is often punishing to weak leaders.
  • Saying negative things about other employees pairs you with aversive stimuli and subsequently you become aversive to the listener. Saying positive things can have the opposite effect.
  • The things that reinforce or punish people are often illogical.
  • Attention and eye-contact often inadvertently reinforce employees for behavior that we don't want.
  • Compliments, money, and attention are not positive to many people.
  • Subordinates can sense sincere reinforcement by reading managers gestures and inflections that convey positive emotion.
  • The behavior that gets people promoted is copied by other employees.
  • Subordinates determine what their managers want to hear by listening to his or her questions and comments.
  • Asking an employee for their advice is usually a strong reinforcer.

Many of these observations are counter-intuitive—others axiomatic. If you say negative things, then you become a negative to those others. Correspondingly, positive comments (words, phrases, gestures, positive inflection) establishes you as a positive—a reinforcer to those with whom you speak. If you repeat positive things about another employee, like “You know Jim said he really admires your writing skill,” then both you and the other employee (in this case, Jim) become a positive to the listener.