Posts Tagged 'B.F. Skinner'

All Behavior is a Function of it’s Consequences!

Ever hear that line before? Sound like psycho-bable? Shrink speak? Well, BINGO! That is precisely what it is. And, oh…by the way…it happens to be true!

Just back from a consulting visit with a good client. The owner and senior manager are very interested in improving management and staff performance. They want things….like customer service, to work better for the company. They want fewer customer complaints, fewer lost customers, and greater lifetime values. That’s what they want.

Reviewing recent issues, situations poorly resolved or left dangling for a later day….I did what I always do…I called it as I saw it…warts and all. Nobody disagreed. In fact, everyone felt my analysis was spot on…to use an MBA phrase for an accurate description of what is what!

Then, the good part. I laid out a couple of options, things that could be done to create improved performance. Each involved confronting the realities of today, to bring about a better tomorrow…for all. Each option required management to draw a line in the sand and commit to changing the status quo. Each would mean that what is wrong today, will be gone tomorrow.

Guess what happened. To quote senior management…”We don’t want to go that far”. Huh? Then why am I here,  I wondered. “Just do the best you can to explain the right way to do things”, was the direction given to me. “OK”, I replied..and that is what I did.

What will change? Nothing. Why? Because behavior really is a function or the result of how we, as leaders, repond to it. Not complicated. When unacceptable behavior is met with a “discussion” of what should be…but no other reaction, the message is “we think you ought to change your behavior but..if it’s uncomfortable for you…fine.” And so it goes.

My mesage today is…first, don’t begin initiating change unless you are willing to follow through. But, if you are, you can change behavior with your serious and ongoing reactions to what you see happening. And your reaction to poor performance cannot be a suggestion; your reaction must be a declaration in word and deed that, from this day on, some of the things we do, will be done differently. No big deal; no revolution; just modified behavior. Then, as you take each small, easy step toward improved behavior, you celebrate and reward it! Your positive response will keep the changes going. Behavior will improve because the consequence of doing it old way will be corrective action in the form of a negative and unswerving response from leadership.

Honest, can be done. But you must be less willing to put up with unacceptable behavior than you are to confront reality. I can tell you this…people like to be led. Leadership and positive direction will, over time, be met with improved behavior. But, you can’t stick your head in the sand and expect a consulting to make it happen!

Sorry to rant but…as I learn over and over again, wishful thinking has never and will never change behavior. Your reaction to the performance of your staff must be real, serious and continuous.

Good luck!