People continue old behaviors for a reason. In order to encourage people to adopt new behaviors, make them more attractive and easier to do than the old ones. One way to do that is to make old behaviors less attractive, such as establishing negative consequences for old behavior. Conversely, if you know people think there are negative consequences for new behavior, eliminate those and help people feel safe.
For example: A person might think that if he or she will be made fun of if she speaks up. A person might feel awkward doing the new behavior. Others may think, "I don't want to fail, what if I can't do it right?" It's important for team leaders to understand fears like these and create an environment that neutralizes them.
Make it easy for people to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. Take the hassle factor out by using the following suggestions.
Don't wait for perfection!
- Any movement in the right direction is an occasion to reinforce.
- Catch a person doing something right and tell him or her about it right then.
Be as specific in praise as possible.
- "Yesterday, when you explained the KP online system to the elderly patient in such a respectful way, you made me proud to be part of this team."
- "Your suggestion for a new stocking work flow unlocked the whole meeting. Many new ideas came after that and now we are testing yours. Thanks."
Praise more than you correct.
Remember, it takes three to five positive interactions to balance out one criticism.
Yes. You have to praise four more times just to be seen as fair.
Be sincere. Don't say it if you don't mean it.
- People appreciate genuine praise and feedback. It helps build trust and rapport.
Link reinforcement to contributions that are linked to the KP Value Compass.
- "When you helped Nurse Wong with her patient, you helped ensure our patient received better care and made our team a better one to be part of."
- "Showing us there was a way to achieve the goal outlined in the contract really modeled what partnership behavior should look like for the rest of us."
To get more ideas on how best acknowledge the great work of team members who are helping to meet performance improvement goals, check out the Celebrating Accomplishments and Techniques for Recognizing Accomplishment tools.
Review these tools to improve your skills in providing appropriate recognition and reinforcement for your team. If you are a team co-lead, make plans with your counterpart(s) about how you want to reinforce team members as targeted performance improvement occurs.
For an easy-to-print version of the information on this page, download the Five Things to Remember About Reinforcement tool.