Positive reinforcement is a powerful management tool to create employee loyalty. In fact, positive reinforcement is in the first four questions of the twelve that are used in Gallup surveys measuring workplace strength:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
Positive reinforcement gives employees’ attention. Most people like attention when they are doing things the right way. Money and things can work well, but they can be a problem too. It can be expensive to give “things” all the time. Employees might begin to feel entitled to money or things when they get “paid” to do it. And they may want bigger and bigger rewards. It is better if employees learn to do the right thing because it feels right or because it makes their management proud and customer happy.
Positive reinforcement is not always done so well, here are a few tips:
1. Be sincere.
2. Focus on a specific behavior. For example, “thank you for holding the door open for the customer”, “I like the way you probed to discover the real needs of the customer”, or “I am proud of the way you handled that difficult customer”.
3. Link the behavior to the bigger picture. For example, “when I saw you intently listening to what the customer wanted, that is exactly what our culture is about – personally connecting with our customers.”
4. Give the reinforcement as quickly as possible to the employee, don’t wait or delay.
5. Look for improvement in every employee to praise.