Positive Reinforcement Works
I was in the golf club the other day, solving the problems of the world in the bar. You know the sort of conversation. We were happy to discuss anything except golf, after a miserably wet and low scoring round.
One of the topics under the spotlight was the graduation of students from primary, which has become pretty standard in most schools. My playing partner was dead against what he described as “American Bulls**t”.
Nicole Graduates: By sheer coincidence I attended my youngest daughters’ graduation the following evening. Nicole was pumped. She’d learned her lines from the Bill Withers song Lean on Me and was proud as punch to be part of the show. The Principal gave a funny and thoughtful address. We had a chance to chat informally with the teachers and to say ‘thank you’ for the superhero result of steering the kids through the curriculum. The kids themselves had one last moment in the sun with their buddies while proud parents got an insight into their children’s day-to-day world. There was music, a lot of giggling and what could be described as a general feelgood factor.
Take a Bow: There are few moments in our lives when we bask in the sun. Most of the time we’re buried in an endless stream of problem solving. Fixing customer issues, repairing technology, counseling staff. It’s all part of the staple diet of managing, which probably should be re-labeled as ‘the science of spotting and fixing deviations’. Problems are like those rubber critters in an amusement arcade; you knock one down and the next one jumps up to take its place. Very seldom someone, sincerely, puts their arm on your shoulder and says: ‘Well done, take a bow, that was brilliant’.
Nicole’s graduation ceremony was an opportunity to do this with kids who had successfully completed 8 years of full-time schooling. Not bad. A milestone that many kids in the developing world never get to celebrate.
A great line in the 1-Minute Manager was ‘catch someone doing something right’. The world market for positive reinforcement is not saturated. Have a look around you. Find ways to celebrate your own and others success. And then watch proudly as they grow, develop and perform.
Paul Mooney PhD.