Positive Reinforcement Is Not Good For Negative Behavior

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Nothing is better than hearing a ‘Good job’ encouragement from co-workers when you are struggling through a troubled project. Gaining a sense of admiration from those whom you slug it out with in the trenches daily is often all the motivation you need to convince yourself all the trouble you are going through will actually be worth the painful amount of effort you have put into your project.

Noting is worse than giving a co-worker a ‘Good job’ encouragement that frankly isn’t doing a good job. You end up doing the same thing that people who keep giving their dogs treats after they keep peeing on the carpet do—giving positive reinforcement to negative behavior.

Motivation though positive reinforcement is awesome, but make sure you’re not motivating someone to continue to do something you rather have them change. If a subordinate is doing a horrible job producing after-action reports, don’t give him kudos for at least getting the report turned in on time. If your teammate is bringing down your department with sarcasm, don’t encourage him by telling him his jokes are consistently funny.

You do want to raise the spirits of the long suffering and struggling employee. You just don’t want to raise their hopes beyond a level of reality. Do not give positive reinforcements that would suggest a negative action is acceptable, especially if it is just to raise up a person’s spirits.


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