Reinforcement Theory in the Workplace
Reinforcement theory is based on work done by B. F. Skinner in the field of operant conditioning. The theory relies on four primary inputs, or aspects of operant conditioning, from the external environment. These four inputs are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Jul 11, · Reinforcement Theory in the World of Work Reinforcement theory is perhaps most commonly encountered in relation to parenting, but it is increasingly being discussed in the workplace. When used in a work context, reinforcement theory is seen as a useful tool to help steer individuals towards better behaviors and outcomes.
In contrast to some other motivational theories, reinforcement theory ignores the inner state wodk the individual. Instead it focuses on what happens to an individual geinforcement he or she performs some task or action. Reinforcement theorists see behavior as being environmentally controlled. Rather than internal thoughts or desires, the theory is that behaviors are controlled by reinforcers—any consequence that, when immediately following a response, increases the probability that the behavior will be repeated.
For example, you decided to work over the weekend to finish a project early for your boss. When your wnat finds out about your extra effort, she thanks you and buys you lunch.
If your boss said or did nothing to acknowledge your extra work, you would be less likely wbat demonstrate similar behavior in the future.
Regardless of the simplicity of reinforcement reinforcejent, there are lessons to be learned from proper and improper reward or recognition for behavior. Think of how you what is the advocacy process react if you consistently went above and beyond at work and received no reinforcement.
Is it possible that you might start believing that you were wasting your time? Or what if a teammate is consistently disruptive and disrespectful, even to the boss, yet is never reprimanded? Might that teammate continue, even increase, his theofy her disruptive behavior? Reinforcement theory can be useful if you think of it in combination with other theories, such as goal-setting. If you worked on a team at Microsoft in the s, ia were given difficult tasks to create and ship software on a very strict deadline.
Because you knew the requirements of working there, and you loved the opportunity to challenge yourself, you were energized to perform. Although reinforcement theory seems straightforward, a manager who uses reinforcement risks offending his employees. Employees might feel the manager is treating them like children or dogs and qhat giving them the respect due an adult.
This video clip from the Big Bang Theory television show illustrates reinforcement. Notice that Leonard forbids Sheldon from using reinforcement on Penny and himself. Improve this page Learn More. Skip to main content. Module Motivation. Search how to install whatsapp on pc windows 8. Reinforcement Theory Learning Outcome Explain reinforcement theory.
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Sep 21, · Reinforcement theory proposes that you can change someone's behavior by using reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Rewards are used to reinforce the behavior you want and punishments are used. Sep 09, · By. Ivy Wigmore, Content Editor. Reinforcement theory is a psychological principle maintaining that behaviors are shaped by their consequences and that, accordingly, individual behaviors can be changed through rewards and punishments. Reinforcement theory is commonly applied in business and IT in areas including business management, human resources management ( Author: Ivy Wigmore. Jan 10, · Reinforcement theory was first recognized in the work of psychologist Ivan Pavlov (behavioral conditioning) and B. F. Skinner (operant conditioning). Reinforcement theory says that behavior is driven by its consequences. As such, positive behaviors should be rewarded positively. Negative behaviors should not be rewarded or should be punished.
You can think of it as simple cause and effect. Such a scenario creates behavioral reinforcement, where the desired behavior is enabled and promoted by the desired outcome of a behavior. Reinforcement theory is based on work done by B. Skinner in the field of operant conditioning. The theory relies on four primary inputs, or aspects of operant conditioning, from the external environment.
These four inputs are positive reinforcement , negative reinforcement , positive punishment , and negative punishment. This following chart shows the various pathways of operant conditioning, which can be established via reinforcement and punishment both positive and negative for each.
Positive reinforcement attempts to increase the frequency of a behavior by rewarding that behavior. For example, if an employee identifies a new market opportunity that creates profit, an organization may give her a bonus. This will positively reinforce the desired behavior. For example, an employee demonstrates a strong work ethic and wraps up a few projects faster than expected.
This employee happens to have a long commute. The manager tells the employee to go ahead and work from home for a few days, considering how much progress she has made.
This is an example of removing a negative stimulus as way of reinforcing a behavior. In a management context, reinforcers include salary increases, bonuses, promotions, variable incomes, flexible work hours, and paid sabbaticals. Managers are responsible for identifying the behaviors that should be promoted, the ones that should be discouraged, and carefully considering how those behaviors relate to organizational objectives.
One particularly common positive-reinforcement technique is the incentive program, a formal scheme used to promote or encourage specific actions, behaviors, or results from employees during a defined period of time.
Incentive programs can reduce turnover, boost morale and loyalty, improve wellness, increase retention, and drive daily performance among employees. Motivating staff can, in turn, help businesses increase productivity and meet goals.
A successful incentive program contains clearly defined rules, suitable rewards, efficient communication strategies, and measurable success metrics. By adapting each element of the program to fit the target audience, companies are better able to engage participating employees and enhance the overall program efficacy.
Positive punishment is conditioning at its most straightforward: identifying a negative behavior and providing an adverse stimulus to discourage future occurrences. A simple example would be suspending an employee for inappropriate behavior. The purpose of punishment is to prevent future occurrences of a particular socially unacceptable or undesirable behavior.
According to deterrence theory, the awareness of a punishment can prevent people from engaging in the behavior. This can be accomplished either by punishing someone immediately after the undesirable behavior, so they are reluctant to do it again, or by educating people about the punishment preemptively, so they are inclined not to engage in the behavior at all.
In a management context, punishment tools can include demotions, salary cuts, and terminations. The manager may want to emphasize sales to partners of a certain size i. To this end, the manager may reward team members who gain clients of 5, or more employees with a commission of 5 percent of the overall sales volume for each such partner. This reward reinforces the behavior of closing big contracts, strongly motivating team members to work toward that goal, and likely increases the total number of big contracts closed.
Negative punishment entails the removal or withholding of something in order to condition a response. For example, Nicole, an employee in the IT department prefers to work unconventional hours, from a. However, her performance has been suffering lately. A negative punishment would be to revoke her right to keep the preferred schedule until performance improves. In business organizations, punishment and deterrence theory play a vital role in shaping the work culture to be in line with operational expectations and to avoid conflicts and negative outcomes both internally and externally.
If employees know exactly what they are not supposed to do, and they understand the possible repercussions of violating those expectations, they will generally try to avoid crossing the line.
Prevention is a much cheaper and easier approach than waiting for something bad to happen, so preemptive education regarding rules—and the penalties for violations—is common practice, especially in the area of business ethics. Improve this page Learn More. Skip to main content. Module Motivating Employees. Search for:. Reinforcement Theory Learning Outcomes Explain how reinforcement theory can be used as a management tool. Practice Question. Did you have an idea for improving this content?
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