In a recent emotional intelligence/leadership seminar I was facilitating, the topic of behavior [specifically bad behavior] and the consequences of that behavior came up. This is usually an interesting discussion; many people do not equate conseqences with behavior.
So often I get asked “why does management let so-and-so continue to act that way …” when they reference a coworker and their bad behavior.Now I don’t know the specific reasons.What I do know is the consequences of the person’s bad behavior is not powerful enough to change their behavior.
We all have consequences to our behaviors.There consequences are either positive or negative … the consequences will either reinforce the behavior or be sufficient to cause the person to change their behavior.
For someone’s behavior to change, the consequences of their actions must be sufficiently negative for them to want to change their behavior. Years ago, my neighbor would get to work thirty minutes late every day.Her punishment would be to stay an hour late.She charged the company one hour overtime every day for that hour she had to stay to make up for being late that morning.What was the consequence for getting to work late?An hour of paid overtime.Are these consequences negative enough to change her behavior?I think not.
If the person is not experiencing any consequences for their behavior, they have no impetus to change.Therefore they will continue doing the same irritating things that they have continued to do.
It’s up to the effective leader to determine what the person’s fears and motivators are, and to use those in determining and setting the consequences.
It doesn’t matter what management actually says, it’s what you think you heard.