First Business

June 28, 2011

HR: How to make excellence an addiction

This is a new way to look at employee motivation, and it does not start with money.

It’s great when employees know exactly what you want and have the persistence to stick with it until that goal has been met. When developing a culture of excellence, employers take a very different approach. They reward with praise all small steps in the right direction.

Decades of psychological research support this approach. Known as "operant conditioning,†it uses positive reinforcement to shape thinking and behavior in the desired direction. The process must start with a CEO who has a clear vision, desire, and commitment to create a culture of excellence. Following are guidelines that organizations can use to make excellence a "positive addiction.â€

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