One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do I know if our company is in distress?”
The first place to look is your policy manual. The bigger it is, the more likely you are in distress, trying to control behavior through symptom management rather than addressing the underlying cause.
The Process Communication Model shows that when people don’t get their psychological needs met in positive ways, they will attempt to get those very same needs met negatively, with or without awareness. Symptom management chases negative attention behavior instead of meeting needs in positive ways.
Symptom Management Policies/Procedures
- Attempt to control behaviors with phrases like “May not,” “Shouldn’t,” “Refrain from, or “Won’t be tolerated.”
- Place judgment on people with phrases like, “Unacceptable,” or “Inappropriate.”
- Focus on rules
- Regulate everyone because of the behavior of a few.
- Generally use aversive consequences (punishment) to influence behavior
Policies and procedures that address the underlying cause
- Recognize that behind most negative behavior is an unmet positive need
- Focus on desired behaviors and outcomes
- Emphasize team accountability
- Use multiple ways to motivate people by meeting their positive psychological needs
- Focus on principles and guidelines rather than “thou-shalt-nots.”
Consequences of symptom management policies:
- Power struggles
- Blaming and excuses
- Looking for loopholes
- More policies
Outcomes of policies focused on meeting people’s needs:
- Voluntary compliance
- Principled behavior
- Cohesive teams
- Pride and engagement
Where do you want to spend your energy?
In my new book you will learn all about how different employee personality types are motivated, and what types of negative attention behavior you can expect when they don’t get their needs met positively.