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Strategies for Managing Employee Behavior

Knowing Which Strategy to Use, and When to Use It, Is the Mark of a Good Manager

By University Alliance
Strategies for Managing Employee Behavior

A workforce that is motivated and engaged is typically a more effective and productive workforce and, ultimately, more loyal to the organization. However, creating an environment that fosters the right attitudes and optimal levels of employee investment can be a challenge for management.

Such an endeavor requires managers who have established trust with employees, a relationship characterized by certain behaviors. For example, supervisors and other leaders should be able to demonstrate a track record of honesty in their dealings with workers. Additionally, they should be adept at clarifying the respective roles and responsibilities of all team members, providing professional development plans to bolster improvement and growth.

Leaders and managers also should strive to create an environment that nurtures beneficial relationships in the workplace. This can include providing team-building opportunities designed to bring together employees at every level.

Being fair and open also are key factors in building trust, including establishing transparent processes for employee recognition and discipline. Of course, it’s incumbent on leaders to personify the behaviors they value and seek others to embrace.

Leaders who have established a solid foundation of respect and trust should be better prepared to manage employee behavior, whether it involves positive reinforcement or, if necessary, disciplinary action. Here are three strategies used to influence and direct team members:

  • Positive reinforcement: This well-known approach operates under the theory that rewarding employees for demonstrating desired behaviors will motivate them to continue doing so. In turn, that should boost an organization’s prospects of long-term success. Rewards can run the gamut from praise and recognition to bonuses. Although positive reinforcement can improve employee performance, it’s important for managers to ensure that the reward itself – rather than the desired behavior – does not become the overriding goal.
  • Discipline: Where positive reinforcement is geared toward promoting sought-after behaviors, discipline seeks to discourage unwanted behavior. If employees are frequently tardy, they are likely to avoid being late again if their paycheck is docked. The key is to know when disciplinary action would be more effective than positive reinforcement. For example, disciplining employees for failing to practice appropriate customer-service skills may be less successful than rewarding them for performing their duties well.
  • Extinction: This strategy refers to the elimination of procedures and policies that inhibit the ability to communicate effectively or perform work efficiently. Generally, extinction is most relevant in situations involving organizational change. In such cases, employees’ behaviors and habits may need to be disrupted in order to ensure a company’s progress toward its overall goals.

Before incorporating any of these strategies, managers must understand how each strategy works and be fully aware of its potential benefits and drawbacks. Regardless of the approach eventually selected, managers who have earned the trust and respect of their team are likely to be better able to motivate employees to achieve greater success.


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Category: Leadership and Management