Reinforcement...It's the good oil

Mining for gold. The good oil. Yep, we might have mixed our metaphors there didn't we? But the prospect of not prospecting for those precious gems of new, changed behaviour is like missing out on the mother lode. Damn, did it again...couldn't help ourselves could we?

OK. We'll stop now.

But we won't stop banging on about just how valuable it is for you to find and highlight new (and desired) behaviours. 

create or hate

Too often when something or someone has contributed to extra time, effort, or conflict we find it really hard to praise them or make the effort to acknowledge their efforts. But if we don't we miss the chance to embed the behaviours we are seeking.

Think of it from the other side.

Someone has had some pretty serious chats with their boss about improvement. So, they think about it and then do what the boss asks.

But then nothing. Nada. Zip.

So why wouldn't you revert to old behaviours?

But on the other hand, if the boss points out or recognises a shift —no matter how small— then it provides a feedback loop that lets them know they're heading in the right direction.

Think behaviours not traits

You might remember back in the ROADMAP module (ROADMAP - 2 to be exact) we talked about achieving clarity through understanding the difference between Traits and Behaviours.

When it comes to reinforcement, the same thing applies.

If someone says 'you're doing a good job', sure it's nice, but it doesn't give any specifics to repeat.

But if someone says 'I loved the spreadsheet you put together yesterday on the cost analysis' or 'that time you spent with our new intern Henry showing him the SAP GUI system was really appreciated' gives the individual a very specific tie-in to the behaviour —and importantly— what to repeat in the future.

Obsess about trying to find the positive shift in behaviour.

Recognise it as soon as you see it...reinforce it.

Remember to recognise the chuff stuff, not just the tough stuff... Give your attention to the new positive behaviours. People need to hear feedback about what they are doing well: they need it reinforced. This will give them the ability to know when to repeat this new behaviour.

The problem with only giving them the negative feedback...well, you're likely to just see more negative behaviours. In our next module you'll see what an important role these reinforcers play in habit formation; the holy grail of tough stuff success.