Ionia- Behavioral Insights
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Insights

Thoughts and writings from the world of Ionia

On encouragement and positive reinforcement…

In the workplace, nothing bothers me more than seeing leaders rely on scolding, negative criticism, and belittlement to get results from their teams.

 

In the workplace, nothing bothers me more than seeing leaders rely on scolding, negative criticism, and belittlement to get results from their teams. This kind of leadership, although fantastic for militaristic needs of creating a strict authority gradient (this is good for battle when a sense of obligation must overcome the real sense of fear), is out of touch with evidence supporting positive reinforcement and emotional integration. In fact, it can be successfully argued that leaders engaging regularly with this leadership style have low emotional insight and poor influence over others in their organizations. It is, in the modern era, a behavior not tolerated by employees and team members. High turnover, stress, and poor outcomes are the symptoms when a toxic leader isn’t corrected and educated. 

In fact, it can be successfully argued that leaders engaging regularly with this leadership style have low emotional insight and poor influence over others in their organizations

So, encouragement and positive reinforcement create better outcomes and results for members of a team; they retain more of what they’re taught and stress levels are reduced significantly. So much so, they have lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies when tested after experiencing a positive style of leadership rather than a critical one. Famously, in military pilot training, it was discovered that pilots receiving encouragement and reinforcement for mistakes were more likely to correct and prevent mistakes in the future. In essence, they became better pilots, faster. For the commanders dishing out the pain and suffering for mistakes, they perceived their negative leadership efforts to work on the trainees. Following an episode of belittlement and criticism, the pilot typically responded over the next several days of training with improvement. In actuality, the pilots were making improvements on the days the instructor praised them for their flights; it was the instructors who were unaware of how their positive guidance was the more effective approach. A human perception error lead them to think otherwise.  

it was the instructors who were unaware of how their positive guidance was the more effective approach.

When it comes to patients, employees, staff members, and peers; keep in mind, improvement is more likely to occur with a positive approach focused on connection rather than a negative approach focused on criticism. 

 

-Matt

Matt is a Behavioral Economics expert and would like to arm each of you with behavioral science tools to address strategic and delivery challenges. His firm, Ionia.co designs processes to optimize human motivation, persuasion, influence, perception, behavioral nudges, and gamification. If you are interested in engaging with your patients, please email him at matt@ionia.co or call at 205.434.3499

Matthew Cybulsky