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    Managers who use punishment to motivate employees

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    Case Incident Managers Who Use Punishment

    As sales manager for a New Jersey auto dealership, Charles Park occasionally relies on punishment to try to improve his employees' performance. For instance, one time he was dealing with a salesman who was having a bad month. Park talked to the employee about what he could do to help him move more cars. But after another week without a sale and a condescending attitude from the employee, Park confronted him. He screamed at the employee, told him his performance was unacceptable, then threw a notebook binder at him. Said Park, "I had talked to him before, said that I would help him out, but that we had to do something about his numbers. The day I tossed my binder at him, he actually sold a couple of cars." And Park is unapologetic about his behavior. "I am always tough on all my salespeople, but they know the reason is that I want them to do better. Do I think it's always effective? No. But if you do it once in a while, it works." Apparently Charles Park isn't alone. When the pressure for meeting numbers and deadlines is high, some managers rely on punishment to try to motivate employees. Aubrey Daniels, a motivation consultant, says it can backfire on a manager when he or she avoids telling employees that there are negative consequences for poor performance. "Positive reinforcement is something that employees should earn," Daniels says. For instance, Daniel points out cases in which a high-performing salesperson refuses to do his paperwork but still gets high praise from his boss because his numbers are good.
    Many managers still rely on threats to motivate employees: "Do it or you're fired!" And with some employees, it seems to work. Rick Moyer, a sales manager for TuWay Wireless in Pennsylvania, argues that punishment can sometimes provide a much-needed kick in the pants to salespeople who are slacking or unaware of their poor performance. For instance, he posts individual results at his sales meetings even though he knows that it can be embarrassing for those with lower numbers. For some people, public embarrassment works. He had one of his sales reps come up to him and say, "I'm embarrassed to come to the meetings because I'm always toward the bottom." The employee volunteered that he was going to work extra hard to move up in the rankings. And he did.


    1. What conditions, if any, do you think justify the use of punishment?

    2. Do you think most managers use punishment? If so, why?

    3. What's the downside of using punishment? Of using positive reinforcement?

    4. Have you ever worked for a boss that used punishment? What was your behavioral response?

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    1. What conditions, if any, do you think justify the use of punishment?
    As mentioned in the case study, poor performance justifies the use of punishment.

    2. Do you think most managers use punishment? If so, why?
    No, I don't think most managers use punishment. The inherent nature of the human being is to work cooperatively in times of plenty, and to use force or bullying only in times of shortage. As a matured and responsible individual, each employee is expected to know his duties and responsibilities and should perform them out to the best of his or her abilities. Many managers who use excessive ...