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Managers Can Shape Employees’ Behavior

According to Carlos Hill, managers can shape employee’s behavior depending on the results of it. He sees it as the response-stimulus chain on contrary to the stimulus-response chain which is viewed traditionally by classical theorists (Hill, 2008). Four ways such as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction can be helpful for managers to shape employees’ behavior. These ways help managers to stimulate and prevent some models of behavior unless the extinction which neither stimulates nor prevents any behavior. Behavior can become extinct if it is not reinforced. Any reinforcement strategy depends on the way how reinforces are managed. The reinforcement can really influence if it’s close to the occurrence of the behavior (Robbins, 1998). It’s obvious that positive and negative reinforcement make behavior stronger and at the same time punishment and extinction make it weaker.

Positive reinforcement means to make a behavior stronger via the possibility to be awarded as a result of the proper behavior. When one achieved good result, for instance, signed a profitable agreement, he/she gets the payments for it (Runte, 2011). It means good job helped you to get monetary reward and appropriate advertising. It means that a positive reinforcement can be determined as a situation when a good behavior is awarded with something pleasant. If a person is positively motivated there are more chances to make such behavior repeat (Jones, 1993).

Negative reinforcement also makes a behavior stronger but via the means to eliminate the stress-factor as a result of behavior. It’s possible to see on the example of some countries when the measures taken towards them became weaker as the situation human rights get improved. As soon as one finally did really progress in work, for instance, getting successful contract, he is not longer “Salomon Brother” (Orpen, 1997).

As anyone can see negative reinforcement is determined by reduction or cancellation of something unpleasant as a result of good behavior. For instance, a manager promised not to apply a penalty or fire the worker if he starts his work in time. In such case a manager uses the negative reinforcement. In such case the necessity to start the work in time is stimulated by the possibility to get full payment or not to be fired (Romero, 2000).

One of the ways to make a behavior weaker is the punishment. In such case it will be gotten as a result for improper behavior. For instance, an employee can get less payment as a result for being late at work. This is the example of punishment which is the result of undesired behavior (Nichol, 1992).

Extinction is the other way to make a behavior weaker. Such technique means that if a person applies efforts to get such awards but he/she does not get it, they would stop doing it. Extinction is determined as the process to reduce any reinforcement which influences the behavior and as a result it disappears. For instance, the situation when a manager of a company would like to avoid unrelated and disturbing questions from employees he started ignoring his attempts to ask these questions. It helps to make this behavior disappeared (Jones, 1993).

Positive and negative reinforcement has learning as the consequence. In such way managers influence employees’ behavior and create the conditions in which the desired behavior will be strengthened and repeated. Punishment and extinction has the same result as the consequence but they make undesired behavior weaker and less repeated till it disappeared at all.

It’s possible to apply continuous and intermittent reinforcement but the last one is more preferable because continuous reinforcement stimulate a desired behavior as long as it works but when it disappeared suddenly it can have negative impact (Milne, 2007). At the same time intermittent reinforcement reinforce often enough to stimulate the desired behavior to repeat and not to disappear if something happens.


Hill, C., Jones, G. (2008). Essentials of Strategic Management. pp. 89-97.
Jones, L. (1993). Work structuring for employee motivation. Education + Training, 20(10), 290-293.
Jones, L. (1993). Employee motivation through job enrichment. Education + Training, 19(7), 214-219.
Milne, P. (2007). Motivation, incentives and organisational culture. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(6), 28-38.
Nichol, G. (1992). Motivating employees. Managing Service Quality, 2(5), 45-48.
Orpen, C. (1997). The effects of formal mentoring on employee work motivation, organizational commitment and job performance. The Learning Organization: An International Journal, 4(2), 53-60.
Robbins, S., De Cenzo, D.A. (1998). Fundamentals of management. pp. 478-480.
Romero, J., H Kleiner, B. (2000). Global trends in motivating employees. Management Research News, 23(7), 14-17.
Runte, M., Basil, D.Z. (2011). Personal and corporate volunteerism: employee motivations. International Journal of Business Environment, 4(2), 133-145.