“Behavior Ignored Is Behavior You’re Stuck With”

Behavior Ignored is Behavior You Are Stuck With!

By Michael McPherson

In 2006, Lizz Chambers, a hospitality industry training expert wrote an article about employee coaching and behaviors titled “Behavior Ignored is Behavior Accepted”. This article discussed the concept that ignoring poor or counterproductive employee behavior eventually allows that behavior to become the norm in your organization. Ms. Chambers posed that employee coaching to eliminate or modify poor behavior was the method of choice for dealing with these issues. This is a concept that has become near and dear to my own management and training style – as negative reinforcement is not the optimal way to deal with poor behavior – it is necessary to discipline employees but that will only get you so far with them.

In order to truly change the behavior of under-achieving employees managers and supervisors- you must involve those employees in that change. You may be asking how?

Well, the first step requires that a supervisor or manager be regularly engaged with their employees (Management by Walking Around – MBWA). If your employees don’t see you as a partner, then they are less likely to listen when you tell them how to be better at what they do.

The second step involves clarifying your expectations and communicating them to your staff.

Do you ever do any of the following?

  • Expect people to change on their own
  • Expect your employees to “just know” what you expect from them
  • Hope that the employees will just “look around” and “get it”

Are you ever?

  • Unsure of your own standards
  • Unclear in your expectations when communicating them (or identifying them)
  • Afraid that employees will get upset when you address expectations or performance issues

If the answer was “yes” to any of these questions, then you may be coaching-challenged. The solution involves taking the time to identify your own standards and expectations (ensuring that they are in line with those of your organization) and then communicating them to your staff. This communication comes in many forms:

  • Formal training
  • Informal training (on the job, etc.)
  • Following up by talking to your employees and ensure they understood training concepts and are putting them into action
  • Consistent day to day feedback on performance
  • Occasional disciplinary action if necessary
  • Performance reviews that are effective (this is a topic for another blog so we will not elaborate here)

The third step to this process involves developing communication within your staff. Allow them to feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns. Allow your staff to ask questions and express concerns or ideas – this will quickly enhance your credibility as a manager and will allow your employees to feel more invested in the work.

If you are following these principles, your employees will be more productive, your workplace will be less hectic and you will help to keep down your turnover and UI costs by reducing the number of employees who are separated from employment and file unemployment claims.

Finally, take the time to continue with MBWA and follow up with your staff consistently to ensure that good behaviors are being reinforced and poor ones are being addressed. Without this consistent reinforcement the poor behaviors that hurt your business and productivity are the ones you will be stuck with!

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