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Managers have a responsibility of distinguishing the behaviors that should be encouraged from those that should be discouraged to achieve organizational goals and objectives (Shahan and Cunningham 405). Managers can use several strategies to reinforce behaviors including positive and negative reinforcement, as well as punishment and extinction. Reinforcement theory provides a combination of rewards and punishments that can strengthen preferred behavior or end unwanted behavior (Shahan and Cunningham 408). This essay uses the reinforcement theory of motivation to discuss how the four strategies are applicable and evaluate the strategies that are can help to reinforce desired behavior positively.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement strategies
Positive and negative reinforcement contributes to increased likelihood of learning and repeating a particular behavior. Positive reinforcement happens when the occurrence of a treasured behavioral outcome is capable of raising the probability of the behavior being repeated (Hinkin and Schriesheim 991). For example, managers can use positive reinforcements such as incentive programs that may be in the form of commissions or bonuses to reward good performance. Hence, increasing the likelihood of employees putting more efforts to improve performance in the future. Negative reinforcement strategies are employed by sustaining a behavioral consequence that is undesirable, increasing the possibility of the behavior to recur. Managers can administer a negative reinforcement such as a resolution not to reassign well-performing sales persons within a given territory to a sales route that does not produce desirable results. Such a decision will make the sales people continue improving their performance in the future (Hinkin and Schriesheim 992).
Punishment and Extinction Strategies
Punishment and extinction are the other two strategies that attempt to reduce the chances of particular behaviors being displayed and promoting desirable behaviors. Punishment involves administering an undesirable behavioral consequence ensuring that unwanted behaviors do not occur in employees. This strategy is only recommended if positive and negative reinforcements are no longer applicable (Shahan and Cunningham 409). An example of how managers can apply this approach is the demotion of workers who fail to meet their performance goals or suspension of staff members who violate set rules in the workplace. Extinction strategy serves the same purpose with punishment since it attempts to minimize employees’ unwanted behaviors. The extinction process starts with the maintenance of a valued behavioral consequence with the objective of reducing the chances of the learned behavior from occurring again. Over time, the behavior is likely to end. The strategy can also lead to the reduction of a wanted behavior if a positive reinforce is not given when a desirable behavior is observed. Therefore, managers should be careful to ensure this does not take place. For example, they should make sure that they continually praise employees for attractive behaviors to make sure they do not diminish (Shahan and Cunningham 410).
Evaluation of the Strategies
Punishment and extinction cannot reinforce desired behaviors positively unlike positive and negative reinforcement strategies due to several reasons. Firstly, punishment and extinction only tries to end unwanted behavior but do not provide its alternative. Secondly, they are likely to develop negative attitudes towards work or the managers. Thirdly, they control behavior but are not capable of eliminating it permanently (Hinkin and Schriesheim 998). Therefore, managers should use positive and negative reinforcement strategies to sustain desirable behaviors positively.
Managers can apply four different strategies to promote desirable behavior in the workplace. These strategies can be derived from reinforcement theory of motivation. It provides managers with positive and negative reinforcement as the approaches that assist in encouraging desired behavior. It also provides punishment and extinction as the methods of ending unwanted behaviors. However, the first strategies provide a better way of maintaining attractive behaviors.
Hinkin, Timothy R., and Chester A. Schriesheim. “Leader Reinforcement, Behavioral Integrity, and Subordinate Outcomes: A Social Exchange Approach.” The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 26, 2015, pp. 991-1004. ScienceDirect, Web.
Shahan, Timothy A, and Paul Cunningham. “Conditioned Reinforcement And Information Theory Reconsidered.” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, vol.103, no. 2, 2015, pp. 405-418. MEDLINE, Web.