Employee engagement is all the rage, but is it really working? With all of the trends, strategies, and management perspectives, it can be hard to figure out what to think "Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement" offers a science-based perspective that helps leaders leverage powerful psychological principles to close the ever-widening gap between employee engagement and the performance your business requires.
Bringing out the best in your employees is not an easy matter, as evidenced by the increasing number of employee engagement strategies and philosophies ranging from suggestion boxes to quality circles. Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement hopes to offer some clarity for leaders who are tired of chasing the latest HR trends or fads. The book promises to offer the simple question, “What can I do to help my employees reach their potential at work?”
What is Bringing Out the Best in People About?
Dr. Aubrey C. Daniels is critical of much of the “employee engagement” trend that is happening in the modern workplace. He argues that many of the approaches coming from this trend (quality circles, suggestion boxes, “Employee of the Month” , etc.) aren’t working. These approaches, Dr. Daniels asserts, mistakenly assume something is wrong with the employee.
The numbers seem to back up Daniels’ claim. Despite years of employee engagement strategies, surveys consistently report that employee engagement hasn’t significantly increased.
The problem, Daniels wants everyone to understand, isn’t the employee. It’s the workplace.
The solution to fixing that workplace isn’t another “innovation” or fancy technique, Daniels explains. The answer, in fact, is psychology, a common denominator for every human being.
Using psychology, Daniels challenges many of the underlying assumptions behind traditional HR practices including profit sharing, “Employee of the Month” awards, commissions and training. He argues that a deep gap exists between what employers think they are doing and what their actions are reinforcing.
To give an example of how the workplace environment can sabotage engagement, we can look at commissions, typically used to reward salespeople for bringing in revenue. On the surface, they seem a reasonable idea. Top performers get a larger piece of the pie. In one workplace, though, commissions can overtly or subtly create a “results-only” cutthroat environment. In another workplace, commissions can overtly or subtly bring about an environment where luck is praised more than sales skill.
Use of commissions is just one of many practices that Daniels wants employers to rethink. He invites business owners and managers to consider whether their policies and strategies are actually producing the best results. Are they proactively reinforcing behaviors resulting in a positive work environment or are they unintentionally promoting mediocrity or worse yet a hostile work environment that rewards negative behavior?
Daniels, also known as the “father of performance management”, is a management consultant, founder of Aubrey Daniels International, keynote speaker, author and lecturer. A clinical psychologist by training, he argues that B.F. Skinner’s behavioral science can be used to improve the practice of “performance management”.
What Was Best About Bringing Out the Best in People?
Bringing Out the Best in People offers a compelling argument for the use of behavior analysis in the workplace. While Dr. Daniels doesn’t intend for business leaders to become full-fledged behavioral scientists, he does believe that some of the techniques can dramatically improve the gap between worker engagement and leader empowerment. His challenge of traditional (and often unquestioned) HR practices leaves much for the modern manager, business owner or leader to ponder.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Bringing Out the Best in People brings much-needed depth to the conversation on employee engagement. Daniels isn’t asking for employers to invest in a costly overhaul of their HR process in order to get results. Instead, he is asking employers to reflect on their current principles in light of behavioral science. The book isn’t a complete cure-all for every issue in the workplace, but it can provide the initial questions and suggest baby steps managers can take in order to begin making meaningful changes.
Why Read Bringing Out the Best in People?
Bringing Out the Best in People has applications for every single worker on the planet but offers the most relevance for executive leaders and higher-level managers. Members of this group have the best ability to apply the lessons in the book. Daniels boldly confronts many of the assumptions behind employee engagement with a science-based perspective. Bringing Out the Best in People can guide readers into the main areas to consider when a gap exists between the intent of your policies and actual results.