After more than 200 episodes, the oddly quirky and debatably successful sitcom “The Office” came to an end last week. Even for those who didn’t watch, it was clear that the premise of the show was to unearth the totally inappropriate goings-on in the workplace, leaving viewers gasping, “Did that just happen?” Read entire post including tips for effectively managing others and avoiding mistakes common to television bosses at Talent Management Magazine.
‘Culture “Change”’ Articles
Kicking, hitting, pushing, calling names — no, it’s not a 4-year-old kindergartner run amok, it’s the behavior of 44-year-old, (now former) Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice. Apparently Rice has been positively reinforced and rewarded for this type of behavior since preschool because people don’t develop lifestyle strategies overnight. In early April of this year, Rice was fired by the university after (and only after) ESPN aired footage of his form of inspiring performance: nothing like the coach bashing your head with a basketball at close range to make you a better player, right? Read the entire post on Performance Reset at Talent Management Magazine.
As so many of us take pause after hearing the news of the Boston tragedy, we look for ways to process the events, for the right way to talk with our children, and ways to keep ourselves calm and courageous at a time when it’s easy to be fearful.
For me, I thought back to something I wrote in Other Peoples Habits, “…be the person who begins a chain reaction of change in your environment.” This quote is in reference to the power of learning and applying the laws of human behavior and bringing it and the appropriate use of positive reinforcement into your environment. Skinner also summarizes the benefits such a strategy would have if practiced on a global scale in his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity:
It’s hard to imagine a world in which people live together without quarreling, maintain themselves by producing the food, shelter and clothing they need, enjoy themselves and contribute to the enjoyment of others in art, music, literature and games, consume only a reasonable part of the resources of the world and add as little as possible to its pollution, bear no more children than can be raised decently, continue to explore the world around them and discover better ways to deal with it, and come to know themselves accurately and therefore manage themselves effectively. Yet all this is possible.
I agree with Skinner. I believe that most of the world’s problems, from crime and drugs to ineffective education and the threats to world peace, result from a lack of understanding of how consequences change behavior. We can find hope in a science that has enormous power and I hope we all can begin our own positive chain of change in our own worlds.
Read more about the science.
It was announced this week that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is calling all telecommuting employees back into the office; for good! Mayer cited the need to foster collaboration which can, according to Mayer, only be done in person.
The real problem at Yahoo is management, not where people work. Bringing employees back into the office will not solve their performance problems or inspire more successful and effective innovation and collaboration. If managers manage employees poorly at home, it is possible that they will manage them poorer at the office. It is one thing to have a poor manager interact with you occasionally through email, text messages, or by phone but it is quite another to have the manager on your case all the time.
Yahoo needs managers who understand the science of human behavior and how to apply its principles and methods successfully in the workplace. It is a proven fact that employees who are positively reinforced for their performance will undoubtedly continue to deliver improved performance (ie. Discretionary Effort).
Until the CEO fixes poor management and supervisory behaviors, in addition to the across the board executive decision making process, there will be more changes that employees won’t like such as increased job pressures and layoffs.
Read more about this in my latest Talent Management post, “Yahoo! Firestorm: Intention vs. Effect.”
Guest Post by Joe Laipple
When I first started working in a call center, I asked a supervisor of thirty years to estimate how many change initiatives she had seen in her career. I shouldn’t have been surprised when she said she had seen an average of one new initiative every six months. Those sixty new initiatives typically start with high promise, positive talk, and good intentions but then fade away. Read the entire post at Connections Magazine.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, you know it has less to do with the calendar date and Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) than it does with the concept of changing non-productive habits one small step at a time. In the movie, Murray (a curmudgeon and a cad) wakes up to the same day repeatedly and eventually learns that he can change the results of his life by making small daily changes in his behavior. By the end of the movie, he is transformed and moves forward into a new day as a better and happier man. Read my latest Talent Management Post to learn more.
Guest post by Judy Agnew
In my consulting work and in presenting to large groups, the topic of creating or supporting a safety culture comes up without fail. What I find most often is a varied understanding of what is needed by leaders and employees to ingrain a safety culture into the fabric of their organization.
It’s important to begin with a common definition of a safety culture: a set of core values and behaviors that emphasize safety as an overriding priority. While values are the foundation, safety culture is ultimately expressed through what is said and done—through behavior. Each organization has or should have its own description of an ideal safety culture (based in values) however there are some elements that should be common to all. Following are seven keys to an effective safety culture:
1. The entire workforce relentlessly pursues the identification and remediation of hazards. Correcting hazards as quickly as possible and maintaining good communications around hazards will not only create a safer workplace, it will improve your employees’ engagement. Frontline employees who believe management takes care of hazards are more willing to participate fully in safety initiatives.
2. Employees at all levels are equally comfortable stopping each other when at-risk behavior is observed and recognizing each other when safe behavior is observed. While good constructive feedback is important for improvement, positive reinforcement for safe behavior is essential for building safe habits. The more actively involved all levels of the organization are in delivering positive reinforcement for behaviors consistent with the desired culture, the stronger the culture will be.
3. No one is blamed for near misses or incidents. Instead, systemic causes are pursued. Often when people engage in at-risk behaviors that lead to incidents, there are organizational systems and practices that inadvertently encourage those at-risk practices. It is important to uncover those and establish accountability for making the changes to the systems and practices to encourage safe behavior.
4. The fear of discipline which drives under-reporting and stifles involvement has been driven out of the culture. Discipline has a place, but most safety issues can be effectively dealt with without discipline, which has side effects that work against building a culture of safety. When discipline is used disproportionately in relation to positive consequences it leads to lower morale, reduced trust, lower productivity, less teamwork and lack of engagement. Equally disturbing is that it suppresses reporting incidents which cripples the organizations ability to learn from mistakes and become more proactive.
5. The workforce is characterized by good relationships at all levels. Trust is an essential component for an effective safety culture. As noted above, mistakes and errors, while unfortunate, provide invaluable learning. Employees who have good working relationships with management are more likely to speak openly and honestly about what is working, what is not and what still needs to change. They are also more engaged in other aspects of safety.
6. Safety is integrated into day-to-day work. It is not treated as something separate to be discussed during a weekly safety meeting or only at shift change. Safety should be part of every conversation and considered in every decision.
7. Successes are celebrated along the way. Pride shouldn’t be focused solely on a company’s safety record, but also in what is being done every day, all day to achieve that record.
Once you have defined the ideal safety culture for your organization, the science of behavior analysis can be used to develop behaviors consistent with that culture. Targeted positive reinforcement of desired behaviors leads to rapid change and the effects multiply quickly as all employees begin to not only display desired cultural behaviors, but to reinforce those behaviors in others.
Now this borders on ingenious and unethical and takes the concern for employee engagement to a whole new level. I was stunned to read last week about a software developer who literally outsourced his own job to China! That’s right, he gave what I would imagine to be about a quarter or third of his pay and outsourced all of his work to China. Instead of doing the actual work he would spend the day surfing the web.
What is so remarkable about it is that his performance reviews seemed to be stellar and it was even reported that he was the best in the building at ‘his’ job. The question is, should he be rewarded or fired? He has certainly shown the company how it can save lots of dollars while maintaining good quality work. On the other hand, since he did not reveal his activity to the company, he is lying about his work and as creative as he is I am sure that his work ethic and values do not reflect those of his company. My decision is that he should be terminated on that basis alone. However, a management system that could allow this behavior to occur without detection is equally culpable.
My last thought is that this behavior indicates that the management of this company needs some help in how to bring out the best in people.
The holidays are over and exhausted employees have returned to their everyday work routines. The season of celebration can only last so long, because even fun can be overdone. However, the spirit of giving doesn’t have to stop with a calendar date.
Just last month, one group of employees received a gift that not only keeps on giving year round, but possibly for a lifetime. Beginning in 2013 the 400 employees of a successful grocery chain will officially become the owners of the business…Read my latest Talent Management Post to learn more.
Introducing a new leader can be either highly successful or terribly detrimental to an organization and its employees. With the sudden and surprising news this week of Citigroup’s CEO stepping down and a replacement coming in, it’s important to understand from the outset the four predictors of effective leadership: Momentum, Commitment, Initiative, and Reciprocity. Read my latest Talent Management post to learn more.