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Bringing Out the Best in People

How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Reinforcement

Aubrey C. Daniels

Expressing more appreciation is one of the Seven Challenges emphasized on this web site.  Daniels' book is controversial because he discusses motivating people with rewards, recognition and organizational programs that try to express systematic appreciation for jobs well done.  Some people have objected that this is treating employees like trainable animals:  throwing a fish to the performing dolphin.  The problem is that organizations are always conditioning their employees in one way or another; any structured environment does that. So this book recommends that companies take responsibility for steering the conditioning processes that are at work every day.  The most important issue here is that people who cause problems often get most of the attention in organizations, and people who try hard and perform well often get ignored and taken for granted.  The high performing folks then get frustrated and leave, because their basic need for recognition is not being met.  And when they do leave, the organization suffers.  The idea of managing by correcting mistakes and "keeping people in line" has such a strong grip on so many managers that it will probably take radical programs like Daniels' to get people on the road toward managing by rewarding excellence.   Review by Dennis Rivers.

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