When you have a good employee with a bad habit, use behavior
The kind of habit we're talking about doesn't cut productivity -
if it did, you'd fire him. The employee is productive, but not as
much as he could be. Perhaps it's lateness. Perhaps it's leaving
early. Perhaps it's overlong lunch hours. Perhaps it's chatting
with other employees and keeping them from getting their work done.
But whatever it is, it's got to stop.
In behavior modification, the buzz words are "positive and
negative reinforcement." You know them as rewards and punishment.
Your errant employee behaves as he does because the payoff he gets
is worth the penalty he's paying.
So first decide what he's getting out of it. Maybe it's getting
away with something. Maybe it's the covert admiration of
co-workers. Maybe it's attention. Maybe it's a feeling of
Next reduce the rewards and increase the penalties. For
instance, if he's rewarded by being a hero to his peers, reduce that
by docking their pay as well as his for any time they lost because
of his antics. They'll get him in line in a hurry.
Finally, increase his incentive for good behavior. If he goes a
certain number of days without fouling up, reward him - a little
more per hour, a written commendation or the right to move his desk
where he's been wanting to.
Central to success is that the employee must know what you're
doing and why, so he can see that what happens to him is a direct
consequence of his behavior. If he wants to change the
consequences, he'll have to change the behavior.
QUESTION: When I graduated last week, I thought I had the job of
my dreams. One of the nation's largest manufacturers of aircraft
equipment hired me as a technical writer and offered to put me
through to a doctorate. Yesterday I read the firm is a takeover
target. What are the chances my job will materialize?
ANSWER: The surprising answer is that your chances are very
good. Takeovers may be hard on people already employed at the
merged company, but most companies honor commitments made to new
employees coming aboard. You may find your duties and conditions of
employment have changed, however, if the takeover goes through.
Q: In an effort to apply MBO to my life, I'm drawing up salary
goals for myself at five-year intervals in the future. People used
to say that you should be earning $1,000 for every year of your age,
but at 34 and earning $76,000, I'm already more than double that.
What would be reasonable goals for me?
A: You're right that that old formula is way out of date. Today
salaries increase at continually accelerating rates. You should set
your sights at $132,000 by age 40, which is $3,300 for every year of
age; $180,000 by age 45, which is $4,000 for every year of age;
and $240,000 by age 50, which is $4,800 for every year of age. …