Direct management observation and immediate feedback is the best tool for reinforcing performance expectations among employees. And while such reinforcement is optimally effective at maintaining high performance levels when given consistently over time, some management observation programs become a checklist task for executives, managers, and supervisors; resulting in the majority of observations being performed at the end of the observation cycle or in clusters during a narrow time frame within the cycle. Workers learn that standard adhering performance reinforcement only occurs during a very brief period within the cycle and that substandard work will typically not be observed and behaviors corrected the rest of the time. Work behavior quickly aligns with the pattern of expectation reinforcement; sub-optimizing overall performance and adversely impacting the observation program’s effectiveness.
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