Behavior Management / Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is the application of reinforcement theory to people in organizational settings. It is simply based on the principle of operant conditioning. According to the reinforcement theory, the frequency of desirable behavior can be increased by an individual as it results to positive consequences whereas the undesirable behavior should be reduced as it is lined to negative consequences. The purpose of this theory is to improve performance. The behavior approach is based on two underlying assumptions i.e.
  • Human behavior is seen as determined by the environment.
  • The behavior is a response to a combination of specific stimuli and other environmental factors such as time and previous experiences.

The various steps involved in behavior modifications are:


a) Identification of Critical Behavior
Critical behavior are the actions that make significant impact on job performance. The manager should try to identify the desirable and undesirable behavior to perform a given task. Identification of critical behavior involves observing the behaviors, measuring the behaviors and describing the situation at which the behaviors occurs.

b) Develop and Measure Baseline Performance
After identifying the critical behavior, the baseline performance data is developed. The manager has to measure exiting level of performance for each individual employee. It can be obtained by determining the frequency of the behavior occurrences. For example: The customer service manager is providing better performance to 90 percent of customer.

c) Analyze Behavioral Consequences
The behavioral consequences have to be analyzed by a manager of an employee. It identifies existing consequences of performance. For example: if an employee works hard, does the individual is rewarded or just get tired. The consequences are performed by ABC analysis.

A = Antecedent cues

B = Behavior performance

C = Contingent consequences

d) Develop and apply intervention strategy
The intervention strategy is directed to strengthen the desirable behavior and weaken the undesirable cues. The intervention can be through change in structure, process, technology and task. Manager attempts to link performance and reward to make high level of performance. A positive reinforcement is used to direct and guide employee behavior in desired direction.

e) Evaluate Performance Improvement
At the final step, the improvement of the performance of individual behavior is evaluated. The application of reinforcement and intention to the performance is studied and the emphasis is provided on offering long term reward such as pay increase, promotion, authority etc. to improve performance.
Behavior modification is the application of reinforcement theory. It is an approach to human resource management.

Requirement for successful modification of behavior
  1. Reinforces to attach consequences to desired behaviors. Most often used are praise and recognition.
  2. A careful analysis of the job to identify specific key behaviors for targeting.
  3. Careful, explicit communication to employee of what is wanted, including both behaviors and concrete, measurable goals.
  4. Concrete, continuous feedback or feedback soon after performance that workers can use to check on themselves.
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