Archive for October, 2010

Strokes

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Our self-regard is made up with a fusion of values, beliefs & attitudes. These are quite complicated in nature and remain unconsciously inside our emotional brain. For our self-regard to develop and remain in the pink, it requires feedback about us from other people. Your colleague told you “I love working with you”, is an example of positive verbal feedback. Where as, if she would have just given you a warm smile when you enter the office, it would have been an example of non-verbal positive feedback. On the contrary a negative feedback can make you loose your intensity of self-regard. Psychologists refer to these units of feedback from others as‘strokes’. We can receive and give four types of strokes.

Starting with positive strokes, we may receive positive conditional stroke. These are quite useful, provided they are specific. They focus on praising something you have done, such as, “your project report was outstanding. It was clear written, focused and concise on the key issues.” If you notice the second part of the comment is full of conditions. They are useful as they build on learning and development.
Positively unconditional strokes will have the largest positive impact on our self-regard if we somehow manage to accept it. They involve praising you for who you are. And not on what you did, unlike positive conditional strokes. An example of positively unconditional stroke may be a comment from your colleague “I always feel confident when working with you”
Negative conditional strokes are at times essential and when given in a specific & constructive way, are useful. They are feedback on persons behavior such as, “your project report would have had more impact if you could focus on the key issues.” They are useful as they build on learning and development.
Lastly, negative unconditional strokes will have the worst impact on his self-regard if the receiver accepts it and registers in his mind. A lot of negative feedbacks are implied by non-verbal communication. Like, someone shaking eyes & his head and delivering the message ‘I think you are useless’ to the person standing in front of him, for whatever reason may be. Negative unconditional strokes hits you for who you are rather that what you did.
So be careful in accepting strokes from others and then registering them in brain. It all depends upon ourselves. At the same also be careful in giving strokes to other people. Feedbacks are very often used by HR professionals for providing performance reviews.

- Saptarshi Dasgupta

Performance Management

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Performance management teaches managers how to control behavior of the workforce. The behavior of people is the only way anything is accomplished in business. Every organizational achievement is dependent on behavior. Whenever an organization attempts to get better quality, amplify productivity or enhance creativity, it must ask people to change its’ behavior. People must then either do the same things they are currently doing or do different things. If mangers don’t identify with behavior management methods and can’t apply them appropriately & purposefully, they are approximately decreasing some behaviors that they want and increasing others that they don’t want. If they don’t know conditions under which people do their best, then it’s very tough for an organization to survive successfully on a long run.

Behavior is the window to the mind. But you don’t have to read minds. The business of business is behavior. The only thing you need to remember is that the cause of the human behavior lies, not in conditions prior to the behavior but in what happens immediately following the behavior. In the science of behavior analysis, the technical word for what comes before a behavior is antecedent & the word for what comes after a behavior is consequence. Since antecedents always come before the behavior therefore it sets the stage for a behavior to occur, it doesn’t cause the behavior to occur. Consequences follow the behavior and alter the probability the behavior will occur.

Business success is dependant on getting lasting, consistent performance. But business invest heavily in antecedent activity such as training, posters, policies, inspirational speeches etc. more and more, when these methods don’t get desired response or level of performance we want, we tell the same people again, usually in same ways … later on we tell them a little louder or longer, and lastly little meaner. But does their behavior changes? It is the role of the antecedent to get a behavior to occur once. It is the role of the consequence to get it to occur again. Effective antecedents are necessary to initiate performance, but are not sufficient to sustain performance. The only thing that makes an antecedent effective in the long run is its consistent pairing with a meaningful consequence.

Every person takes a job with the objective of doing the best that they can. But it has been found, that most of the time people have the tendency to reduce motivation. It’s only because organizational systems are designed to reward only a few employees; as a result, many people are not motivated and may even leave their jobs because they don’t feel valued for their behaviors or contributions. However, if the entire system is calculated to guarantee that the valuable behavior is reinforced in the right way, at the right time, then all employees are bound to get perfectly motivated. Managers in every organization are not only to find fault with people, but to study why people are behaving as they are, and alter the consequences to promote the behavior that support the organization’s goals. Consequences which are immediate and certain are very powerful in governing behavior rather than which are not immediate but may be certain.

- Saptarshi Dasgupta