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The development of any organization largely depends on the employees’ behavior. Managers have to shape employees’ behavior trying to make them behave in a desirable way and stop undesirable behaviors. Managers often use four strategies of reinforcement that include positive and negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction.
It is necessary to note that positive reinforcement is often regarded as the most effective and the most desirable. Managers are encouraged to use this kind of reinforcement as it improves employees’ motivation (Martin and Pear 33). Some strategies associated with this kind of reinforcement include recognition and approval, praise and encouragement, bonuses and rewards, promotion and benefits, and so on (DuBrin 59).
However, to make these methods effective, it is important to provide the positive reinforcement with the appropriate frequency (Gomez-Mejia et al. 44). If the manager praises the employee too often, this individual may stop appreciating this and stop behaving in a desirable way. Nevertheless, if the manager uses the positive reinforcement only occasionally, employees may feel unmotivated, and the turnover can be high (Gomez-Mejia et al. 44).
This form of reinforcement is often used to change the undesirable behavior. It is necessary to remember that it is not punishment, but it is possible to see it as a certain kind of punishment withholding (DuBrin 59). For example, if the manager notices some undesirable behavior, he/she can discuss it with the employee and warn him/her about possible demotion or even discharge. If the behavior changes, the employee will not be punished, but if the employee behaves in the same way, it is possible to choose some type of punishment.
Punishment is often regarded as an undesirable reinforcement strategy as it may have a negative effect on employees’ motivation. Managers can use many types of punishment. For example, some types of punishment are severe criticism, suspension, probation, fines, demotion, withdrawal of benefits, undesirable tasks, and so on (DuBrin 59). The type of punishment depends on the employee and the behavior to be changed. Some mild misbehavior does not need severe punishment as it can have an opposite effect, and the undesirable behavior will not disappear but will intensify. If the punishment imposed is not successful and the undesirable behavior is still present, the manager can use the fourth type of reinforcement.
The final type of reinforcement is extinction (Martin and Pear 33). This is the most unpopular type as it is often associated with negative emotions and unhealthy environment in the organization. Extinction is often associated with discharge, and it is mainly used with the most negative and undesirable behaviors. For example, if the manager wants to make the undesirable behavior disappear, it is possible to fire the employee. Clearly, it is mainly used if the negative reinforcement and punishment have not been effective.
In conclusion, it is possible to state that there are four strategies of reinforcement that include negative and positive reinforcement, punishment and extinction. The most effective strategy is the positive reinforcement while extinction is the most undesirable strategy to use. However, it is also clear that the type of reinforcement to choose depends on a particular situation, behavior or employee. The effective manager can choose the most appropriate strategy and change employees’ behavior. Clearly, this ability is beneficial for the working atmosphere, performance of employees, and the development of the organization.
DuBrin, Andrew J. Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior: An Applied Perspective. Elsevier, 2013.
Gomez-Mejia, Luis R., et al. Compensation and Organizational Performance: Theory, research, and Practice. Routledge, 2014.
Martin, Garry, and Joseph J. Pear. Behavior Modification: What It Is and How to Do It. Psychology Press, 2015.