There are numerous ways to handle or react to various situations in human life, personal or professional. These ways are termed as behavior. It can be anything; general ways of life, responding to certain stimulus, responding to challenges, responding to social needs etc. These behavior is considered very important for success in any one’s action and reaction. Especially in case of management where there are great theories and defined ways of completion available, it becomes very vital that professionals have the right set of behaviors so that probability of success gets increased. There is a lot of academic resources available today to learn right behavior. So changing the way people act or react towards certain trigger of events is nothing else but behavior modification. Behavior management is synonym for behavior modification. In behavior modification, the current behavior of a person is studied and recorded first, second step is to analyze the behavior with the expected result and design the treatment or training accordingly to modify it. Behavior can be defined with the help of Newton’s third law of motion that is “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. As everything in this world happens because of some specific reason, similarly there is a reaction for every action that is referred to as behavior of any human being. Not all the human behaviors can be modified, only those which are observable and measurable can be changed. Moreover, we cannot change any behavior 100 percent thus setting some limitation to behavior change that varies from person to person.
There are mainly four methods to do behavior modification, which are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment. Reinforcement is creating such situation where people are motivated to repeat same behavior as expected, every time. Positive reinforcement is considered very helpful in behavior modification and it’s been observed that this has lasting and guaranteed results. Positive reinforcement includes praising, recognition of work, etc. Whenever a manager recognizes the hard work of his/her team members, he is using positive reinforcement to shape the behavior. Performance appraisal is one of the often seen examples for positive reinforcement. Negative enforcement is done when people has a feeling of avoiding something unpleasant. Suppose whenever any team members commits mistake, he/she has to listen hard talks from manager, so if someone thinks to do the work correctly so that to avoid the lessons from manager, it will be considered that negative reinforcement is being used.
The next way to tackle behavior change is positive punishment. Punishment can be defined as the substantial loss or increase of some activity that is not liked so that people can be accustomed to do what is expected and told. Positive punishment appears confusing because how can punishment be positive. So when someone is told to do something that is good for a person however it appears difficult to him or her because of non-willingness is considered positive punishment. If the person spends more time on similar tasks, it will be beneficial however it adds to workload that person. An example could be; if your manager assigns one more order to deliver in case of you committing any error, then positive punishment is being applied here. Negative punishment is very common and it’s like a loss. So if you commit any error and your manager deducts the salary paid to you, then it’s negative punishment because you’re at loss by both actions. This is considered as extreme step to correct one’s behavior and used when no other option is available. It’s been observed that frequent use of negative punishment can cause depression and can have harmful effects.
Though there is no such defined rule for behavior modification but yes it’s essential to exhibit the right behavior and there are possible ways to change them to a great extent.
Baer, D. Psychological Modeling: Conflicting Theories, Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, 2006