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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Bringing out the best in people by Aubrey C. Daniels ~ 4 minute read

I finished this book in November 2021. I recommend this book 8/10.

This book would have been such a great help when I started as a Shop-floor Supervisor at Rid-Lom. This is an excellent book if you as a manager are trying to figure why people are doing what they do, and you feel like you are struggling to get results.

The bottom line is that if you, like me, are trying to become a better manager, this book needs to be on your reading list. You can get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • No matter how attractive or frightening antecedent is, it will have a long-lasting effect only if it is consistently paired with a consequence that is meaningful to the person involved.

  • Antecedent: Something that comes before a behavior that sets the stage for the behavior or signals it to occur.

  • Behavior: What a person does.

  • Consequence: What happens to the performer as a result of the behavior.

    • Examples:

      • Antecedent: Your nose itches, Gas gauge registers empty, or the telephone rings

      • Behavior: You rub the nose, Fill your empty gas tank, you answer your phone.

      • Consequence: Your nose stops itching. You can continue your trip. A customer places a large order.

  • "Write people's accomplishments in stone and their faults in the sand."~Benjamin Franklin.

  • Discretionary effort is like loose change in employees' pockets. It is management's job to get them to want to spend it all every day.

  • Grandma's law has some personal applications, too. In fact, it represents the best time-management technique available today. Here's how it works: make a list of all the things you need to do. Rank them from the things you most want to do or enjoy doing to the things you least like to do. Then start working at the bottom of the list.

  • The greatest advantage of teams (and one that is almost always overlooked) is that team members can provide immediate reinforcement to each other. If team members are taught to deliver positive reinforcement, they are in the best position to make it immediate. In most cases, they are also in the best position to know whose behavior merits reinforcement.

  • The way that many organizations think about frequency may be seen in annual performance appraisals, annual recognition dinners, quarterly bonuses, employees of the month, and so on. This low frequency of reinforcement will have little or no impact on organizational performance. Positive performance needs to be a daily affair.

  • "Good intentions are terrible things to waste." When a supervisor added the word "but," he turned a positive statement into a negative with a single word. You see, "but" is a verbal eraser when used in an attempt to praise. It erases everything that preceded it. The reinforcement is gone. The criticism remains.

  • Sandwiching is not a good practice. Criticism should be short and to the point. You should be very clear regarding which behavior must increase or stop, what will happen if it does, and what to do instead. Positives should be saved until there is some improvement in performance.

  • Rate Not Rank. One of the most frequently used measurement methods is ranking; I strongly advise against it. Ranking should not be used because it sets one employee against another. There can be only one number one and only a limited number of winners. We don't intentionally hire losers. Let's not use measurement to create them. By using ratings, we compare performance against established criteria. In this way, it is possible for everyone who meets the required criteria to be rated as a top performer. A company of winners will be a winning company.

  • Supervisors should keep individual performance data private. Resist the temptation to compare one performer with another. Don't say, "Courtney completed 123 documents yesterday, and I know that you can do as well." This sets Courtney up as a punisher to the others and does not foster teamwork. However, if a person asks, "How many did Courtney do yesterday?" the proper response is, "Ask Courtney." Voluntarily sharing feedback among peers offers many opportunities for peer reinforcement.

  • Very clearly, the purpose of setting goals should be to increase opportunities for positive reinforcement. If this is the purpose, we should want many, not a few, goals. And contrary to common sense, the best mistake to make in goal setting is to set the goals too low. The reason for these techniques may be obvious to you by now:

    1. If the goal is low, it increases the probability of success. If the goal is reached and success is celebrated, the motivation to do even more the next time is increased. It is not far-fetched to expect goals to be set where attainment is 100 percent. This will ramp up faster than larger goals and exceed them more often.

    2. If goals become the antecedent for positive reinforcement, then the more goals you have, the more occasions there are for positive reinforcement.

The mistake that is most commonly made when setting goals is associated with the word challenging. The concept of "challenging goals" usually causes managers to set fewer goals and to set them too high. Fewer goals that are harder to attain mean very few opportunities for positive reinforcement and reward. The result is a lower number of goals attained.

  • Making rewards and recognition effective:

    1. Positive reinforcement has to be a daily affair.

    2. The reward and recognition must be earned.

    3. The recognition must have personal value.

    4. The delay between the behavior and the reward and recognition must be bridged.

    5. The presentation of the incentive should be preceded by a celebration.

    6. Money is not the best incentive.

  • The first thing to do to improve the effectiveness of compensation and appraisal is to pinpoint the results and behaviors needed from every job. By the way, most athletes have this kind of job.

  • I recognize that most managers reading this book will not have sufficient flexibility where pay and benefits are concerned to implement a fully contingent compensation plan. In fact, the bulk of this book is dedicated to bringing out the best in people in spite of traditional compensation and appraisal systems. However, there is nothing to prevent you from using a matrix system without financial awards.

  • If you want to become a more positively reinforcing supervisor or manager tomorrow, you can start by saying the following many times per week: "I have a problem, and I need your help." Most employees, when hearing this, will try to help you. They may not always be able to give you the help you need, but you will probably be surprised at how many times they will. In addition, when they can't help, you will have an opportunity to teach them something aspect of the business.

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