• There is a positive correlation between efforts and performance,
• Favorable performance will result in a desirable reward,
• The reward will satisfy an important need,
• The desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile.
Text 3.6 Read the text and give some pieces of advice to managers using reinforcement approach.
The work of B. F. Skinner forms the primary basis for the reinforcement theory. Avoiding content or process explanations of motivation, it concentrates attention on the link between behaviour and concequencies. Reinforcement is any effect that causes behaviour to be repeated or inhibited.
The general idea behind this theory is that reinforced behavior will be repeated and behavior that is not reinforced is less likely to be repeated. For instance, if an employee is given an increase in wages when performance is high, the employee is likely to continue to strive for high performance. Reinforcement theory assumes that the consequences of an individual's behavior determine his or her level of motivation. Thus, an individual's motives are considered to be relatively minor in this approach.
Four types of reinforcement depend on the mix of desired and undesired employee behaviour and consequencies:
• Positive reinforcement - satisfying consequencies following desired behaviour.
From a simple "Well done" to changes in pay and prospects, such actions increase the chance of repetition.
• Avoidance learning - removal of unpleasant effects after desired
After some problems, an employee improves the standard of work and the supervisor stops criticizing or watching closely. This is sometimes called negative reinforcement.
• Punishment - negative consequences of undesired
may range from criticism over poor quality to formal sanctions for indiscipline. A common problem is punishment without guidance on how to achieve acceptable standards, so managers should strive to make it constructive.
• Extinction - withdrawal of rewards in the light
of undesired behaviour.
Responses such as ostracism by colleagues, or withdrawal of praise or pay
increases by managers, may counteract the undesired behaviour.
Thus, reinforcers are not necessarily rewards and do not necessarily have to be positive. For instance, the desire of the employee to avoid disciplinary action would be an avoidance reinforcer. Similarly, cutting a salesperson's salary when his or her sales decrease illustrates a negative reinforcer. The effects of negative reinforcement have not been determined scientifically. While punishment had been shown to weaken a specific behavior, the usual effect of negative reinforcement is some form of fear or withdrawal. Thus, at least until further research has been conducted, any negative reinforcement in organizations should be used with extreme caution.
Many argue that the important lesson from Skinner's work is the manager's role in positive reinforcement, so the current emphasis in organizations is on positive reinforcement. It not only shapes behaviour but also teachers norms and enhances the receiver's self-esteem. Managers should recognize that the way reinforcement is given is as important as the fact. Reinforcement should:
• contain as much information as feasible;
• happen as soon as possible;
• recognize achievability, responding to small gains as well as large;
• stem from the top;
unpredictable and irregular, maintaining the element of surprise.
These are six basic rules for using reinforcement:
1. Do not reward everyone the same way. Using a defined objective or standard, give more rewards to the better performers.
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