Employee modification methods may be necessary to create a productive work staff. However, this is generally most true when managers find themselves at their wit's end trying to deal with either incompetent or dilatory workers. Even in situations where employee behavior is mostly positive, some behavior modification may lead to greater levels of productivity. Managers can apply various techniques to attain the desired results.
Modeling is one effective behavior modification strategy that managers and supervisors will often use from the outset with new employees. Rather than waiting to determine whether an employee fits the expected mold for the business, it can be helpful to provide the employee with a mentor or trainer who can show him how to behave within the organization. Workers who model the behavior of other top employees can learn to do the things that make those employees successful. This method can also work with employees who don't exhibit model behavior. Assigning the employee a mentor at a later point in his career may also bring him up to speed.
Employee evaluations comprise another commonly used behavioral modification tool. The key to employee modification using regular evaluations is to ensure that the evaluations are specific enough to affect the behaviors you wish to modify. A paper written for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicates that this is a necessity for behavior modification. FEMA notes that generic and general evaluations have no real effect on employee behavior, while job- and position-specific evaluations are much more effective.
Positive reinforcement or reward can be an effective employee behavior modifier. Offering the potential for bonuses or other perks on the job is one method that employers often use to get employees to either change their behavior or simply perform at a higher level. Monetary awards and bonuses are especially helpful in sales and marketing industries in which revenue is driven by salespeople. Rewards can, however, be effective in other industries such as manufacturing where production is necessary.
On the flip side of the reward coin is the punitive response to employee behavior. Employees who perform poorly may need to be reprimanded in some way. Those who engage in behavior that's unfitting for the workplace may need to be censured or given some type of ultimatum. Employees who continue to perform in undesirable ways may need to be demoted or fired, but a disciplinary system that gives workers several chances to rectify the situation may be a better method for rehabilitating the employee's behavior.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.