This is a behavioural theory initially developed by B.F.Skinner. It finds application in various spheres of life. One of its uses is by psychiatrists to interrupt certain socially unacceptable habits that children have, like sticking their fingers into their mouth. It is seen during training programs where the use of positive statements such as ‘You’re on the right track’, serve as verbal reinforcements to strengthen performance.
Positive reinforcement can play a big role in cultivating a performance ethic within teams. In a business situation, if the organisation’s senior management encourages the teams to pursue tough challenges and continually excel, this often serves as a positive reinforcing cycle that drives a better performance. Encouragement received from a well respected external influence such as the senior management is a reinforcement that spurs teams to go after results.
Basically, the reinforcement theory adds another dimension to motivation. Reinforcement conditions behaviour and is beneficial in organisations that are striving to foster and sustain high performance in their teams. Similarly, rewarded behaviour is also more likely to be repeated. Therefore, verbal or written reinforcement / encouragement, reward or any form of recognition serve as a reinforcing cycle that can drive a team to constantly perform better.
1. Managing Employee Motivation and Performance – http://teachers.net/lessons/posts/2532.html
2. The Wisdom of Team – Creating the high performance organisation by Katzenbach and Smith