The War for Talent in China (Part 4)

Part 4 of a presentation from November 2011 to a group of executives in Shanghai organized by the Ivey Alumni Association, Shanghai Chapter and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

The ABC approach of positive reinforcement

Performance Management and the “ABC” technique was developed by Aubrey Daniels in several books such as Performance Management (3rd edition, revised, 1989) and Bringing Out the Best in People (McGraw-Hill, 1994).

Performance Management is a data-driven approach to managing people that relies on positive reinforcement to maximize performance.

He also uses statistical analysis to verify whether or not a change in performance has occurred after the application of positive reinforcement.

Daniels was not the originator of this approach. Many other scientists have contributed to this body of knowledge, most notably the psychologist B.F. Skinner, who said that positive reinforcement is superior to punishment in changing behavior, and that positive reinforcement results in longer-lasting changes. .

I summarize Daniel’s approach as follows:

The behavior you want,

arises from the positive reinforcement of desired behaviors,

that are delivered as immediately as possible and

are consistently delivered.

For example, if you want to encourage a person to learn to use new software properly you need to both analyze the things that reinforce the behavior you don’t want (on the left side) and then build as many positive, immediate and certain reinforcements for the behavior you do want (the right side).

Using this approach, I have seen employees embrace measurement, not fear it, because these measurements are linked to positive reinforcement and as a result there is both greater transparency and greater discretionary effort by employees. Because it is seen and felt as fair, good employees are motivated to remain with these employers and give more effort rather than go to other companies that might offer more money, but might be seen as more political, negative, or biased.