In our classes we talk about enforcement, changing behavior, and creating the workplace we all envision we should have. Through all these discussions around behavior we talk about moving from Infrequent, Uncertain Negatives, to the use of Soon Certain Negatives to quickly change behavior. Producing a culture of “Reluctant Compliance” because no one is happy with this negative change but are forced to comply to avoid negative reinforcement. This “Reluctant Compliance” over time will turn into the norm, the reality of working in a strictly run workplace. Once the compliance is the norm and deviation is the oddity we can then transition to the next critical step… moving on to the use of Soon Certain Positives to create a long-term positive environment.

Within this Soon Certain Positive phase there is the discussion of using rewards in place of discipline to enforce the correct behaviors. So what is a reward? According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a reward is the following:

“to give money or another kind of payment to (someone or something) for
something good that has been done”

So by that definition we can look at the following rewards:

  • Money or financial incentive
    1. Cash, donation
  • Some kind of gift or recognition
    1. Coffee mug, plaque, pizza for lunch

When I look at the list above and I think of even simpler rewards that can be provided in the workplace. On that brings my mind back to a simpler time in life… kindergarten. Thinking back, how were we rewarded then? With one simple phrase,”Great Job!”

Being told that you are performing well along with a pat on the back or pat on the head meant the world. If we translate that into adulthood, that same phrase (although it can be used in the same way) is usually translated into a much more infrequently used comment, ”Thank you!” Truly the simplest form of recognition is to be told, “Great job, and thank you.”

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Recognition, if used genuinely, can be one of the greatest forms of behavioral modification.


This kind of recognition if used genuinely can be one of the greatest forms of behavioral modification. Both for the thank-er and for the thank-ee. Both benefit from the recognition of a job well done and the simple note that someone truly has seen and recognizes that, and even more importantly appreciates it.

If you would like to read a great article on the use of this simple form of behavior modification and humanity, read the following article:

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/the-two-words-you-need-to-use-more-in-your-hospital.html

The article talks about the Healthcare environment but can translate into any workplace in the world. The simplest of things can have the greatest of impacts.

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