Angela Cathey, M.A. & Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA
Brett DiNovi & Associates
For employers in every industry employee performance is a key concern. If your employees are unmotivated, unskilled, or unwilling to provided their best performance, your business will suffer. Behavioral science can help you effectively motivate the best performance in your employees and help your business reach its goals.
In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett DiNovi speaks with Dr. Nic Weatherly, PhD, BCBA-D about how to drive optimal employee performance. Dr. Weatherly is a Western Michigan graduate and former Aubrey Daniels consultant who continues to work with businesses to solve their staff performance with behavior analytic ‘know how.’
Dr. Weatherly and Brett discuss key points that leadership and management consultants should be aware of as they seek to promote better performance. First among these points is a clarification of the nature of contingencies. Dr. Weatherly reminds us that at any time there are many contingencies driving behavior, some of these may aversive and others appetitive. As Dr. Weatherly indicates it is about the balance of these contingencies, rather than having a sole contingency drive behavior. In other words, an employee is not motivated just by reinforcing or punishing functions but the balance between these. There are always multiple contingencies driving behavior. Dr. Weatherly further clarifies that leaders should not regard punishing contingencies as off-limits. Punishing behavior may sometimes be vital to motivating the kind of attention that allows you to then reinforce appropriate behavior and better performance.
Dr. Weatherly then discusses the distinction between contrived reinforcers and natural reinforcers with Brett and how these should be balanced to keep employee performance optimal in the work environment. Contrived reinforcers are often heavily relied upon in work environments where leadership are actively attempting to reinforce better performance. The difficulty with this is that over-reliance on contests, prizes, or other types of non-naturally existing rewards to drive performance come at a cost for the organization and can lead to a poor maintenance of the performance by naturally occurring environmental responses. Contrived reinforcers can still be a useful and effective tool to motivating better performance; however, employers should plan to effectively transition to motivating better performance with natural reinforcers. Natural reinforcers are reinforcers that the environment would typically respond with to motivate the behavior. For example, many employees will be naturally motivated to perform better if social approval from their supervisors or colleagues occurs as a result of their performance improvements. Eliciting this response from colleagues and supervisors in response to optimal employee behavior may itself be another behavior to shape; however, when the employer takes the time to transition their contrived reinforcers to such reinforcement they often find a cost savings and better behavior change maintenance.
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Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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