The Manager Who Doubled Productivity
- How did Cliff take advantage of principles of operant conditioning to modify his staff’s behavior?
Operant condition aims to trigger behavior change through either positive or negative reinforcement or punishment (Skimner, 2013). In this scenario, Cliff used various principles of operant condition to modify the behaviors of his staff. He used positive reinforcement by providing the staffs with positive stimulus and in the process changed their behaviors and the way they did their work by constantly, rewarding them by giving them lunch, small break time and complementing them. Another principle he used was punishment. He managed to change the attitude of the staffs and motivated them by not punishing them or criticizing them anyhow.
- Why did Cliff’s predecessor’s strategy of punishing undesirable behavior not work very well? Even if punishment and reinforcement strategies were equally effective at controlling behavior, why would reinforcement remain preferable?
Cliff predecessor strategy of punishing undesirable behaviors did not work well because he used/presented unpleasant stimulus when the staffs made minor mistakes. Instead of encouraging them and complimenting them on their strength, he focused more on their negatives, and this eventually lowered their motivation leading to lower productivity and triggering some to move to other organisations.
In this situation, reinforcement strategies were more preferable compared to punishment because the nature of humans is that they like appreciation and they are able to make corrections for the mistakes that they do. Therefore, encouraging and complementing them is the best way to make them stronger and productive as opposed to punishing them for the slightest mistakes that they do.
- How did Cliff make use of partial reinforcement schedules? What kinds of schedules did he use?
He made use of partial reinforcement schedules by frequently complimenting the staff whenever they performed their jobs well. He did not criticize the staff unless it was necessary and always rewarded those who performed well. To achieve this he used various schedules such as setting up of daily production goals and conducting spot checks to identify those staffs that performed their tasks efficiently.
- How could Cliff use his technique to train his staff to complete a complex new task that they had never done before?
To train his staff to complete complex new tasks, Cliff should use the shaping technique of reinforcement to teach them new behavior. As they complete easy tasks and receive reinforcements, they should then be encouraged to perform increasingly complex tasks, is when they well receive more reinforcement. This will enable them to be receptive and motivated to train and to complete complex tasks. By providing incentives and rewards to the employees, it encourages them and it becomes easier for them to embrace new challenges and changes.
- How might Cliff make use of principles of cognitive learning theory to improve his staff’s productivity even further?
Productivity of the staffs can be increased further by adapting to principles of the cognitive learning theory. These theories explain learning through how people think and process information. It also concerns the mechanisms they use to acquire, organize and use the knowledge they have acquired. Cliff therefore will have to understand the thinking of the staff to determine what they require to improve their productivity. Understanding the mindset and the motivation of the staffs will enable Cliff to come up with appropriate strategies that will ensure that productivity increases. He must also apply his experience and be able to organize new information and ideas to come up with appropriate strategies to allow him increase or improve productivity. He also needs to consider the context in which he is operating and use his mental state to come up with measure to stimulate increased productivity. Furthermore, the staff’s productivity can be increased through social interaction. He needs to interact with other people in the organization and outside the organization to get varied opinions and ideas on how to spear head increased productivity. He will be able to lean new information/ideas from others through his interactions that will help him to record high productivity.
Reference Skimner, B. (2013). Operant conditioning