positive reinforcement

Bill Sims is the author of Green Beans & Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement, and has been offering companies advice about positive reinforcement for over 30 years. Sims gave Business Insider his perspective on motivating employees, positive reinforcement, and why performance reviews lack value.

Companies spend trillions of dollars every year on monetary bonuses, thinking this will motivate their employees. However, a different, and much cheaper type of motivation exists in the form of positive feedback and reinforcement. Telling an employee "thank you" after a task is almost unheard of today. Try saying it once in awhile. Let an employee know that he or she makes a difference in the everday motions of the organization. Little things like this go a long way in terms of employee motivation.

Performance evaluations essentially weed out the "losers" in the organization so the head honchos can fire them. This subjective practice often creates one winner, and puts everyone else around them down. Performance evaluations are completed rarely, thus making them fairly inaccurate. They also disrupt company culture and can increase tensions within the office.

Lastly, Sims offers great advice on managing employees who are performing poorly. Citing Dr. Deming's "gun to the head test," Sims explains that there are two reasons that employees may be performing poorly. Either they have not received the proper training and thus cannot perform their job correctly or they are lacking in motivation and do not have the desire to perform their tasks efficiently. Obviously, putting a gun to their head is not the correct way to figure out their poor performance, but the theory still works. By asking them questions like, "Have we trained you effectively? Have we provided you with the tools you need to do your job?" one can investigate whether it is a training or motivation issue. If motivation is the cause, you can begin to implement positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement can be the source of motivation that your employees crave. Since it doesn't cost you, as an employer, a penny, I suggest you begin implementing positive reinforcement today.

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