Punishment Analysis Essay Example
Punishment Analysis Essay Example

Punishment Analysis Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1108 words)
  • Published: September 3, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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The ineffectiveness of punishment as a form of operant conditioning in the workplace is examined in this essay, along with suggested alternatives for addressing the issue. Despite being implemented promptly, harshly, and regularly, punishment frequently falls short of achieving intended results.

While punishment may produce immediate results, it can cause long-term problems and is not an effective way to modify behavior. Appendix 2 provides an example of this when a supervisor reports disciplinary issues to their manager and receives public reprimand and harsh criticism. This approach decreases the chances of desired behavior and may lead to suppressing actions rather than teaching proper ones. An employee who was reprimanded for taking unauthorized breaks at work serves as a good demonstration of this.

When the manager is present, the employee's misbehavior may cease, but in the man


ager's absence, the threat of punishment dissipates. The saying "when the cat's away, the mice will play" demonstrates that punishment is only effective with the presence of a threat. Employees may only avoid engaging in horseplay when they know they will be disciplined by their supervisor, and begin again once the supervisor leaves. If someone is chastised for trying to resolve a conflict, they may stop communicating, causing the conflict to persist.

The negative effects of punishment in the workplace can lead to the replacement of one wrong response with another, without providing guidance on correct behavior. Punishment may also discourage the display of both good and bad behaviors if they are associated with each other. Attempting to assist a coworker may be viewed as interference and result in punishment, causing resentment towards the punishing agent - whether a manager or supervisor -

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who may criticize and harass their subordinates. This strained relationship may lead to personal attacks and hatred. If punishment is overused, it can cause aggression and frustration due to a focus on past errors rather than finding solutions. For example, if a new employee incorrectly states their department's name during a public meeting and is humiliated, they may repeat the same error due to their fixation on the previous humiliation rather than seeking the correct answer.

Poor performance can be improved through punishment, but it may not result in significant satisfaction. Proper implementation is crucial, and as such, punishing agents must know when and how to execute this strategy effectively. To overcome this challenge, the best course of action is to apply mild punishment that temporarily suppresses inappropriate behavior and reinforces desirable actions. Knowing when and how to administer punishment can be difficult; it is more effective when promptly given after an undesired response. Delayed punishment may be perceived as arbitrary, unfair, and unrelated to the problematic behavior. An example of this can be seen with dogs; if one wants a dog off their throat, they wouldn't threaten to mace him for twenty minutes while he works his way off - instead, they would do it immediately.

Addressing ineffective behavior promptly in the workplace is crucial, and consequences should be implemented. While warnings can still be given, prolonging the process may have adverse effects on the team. Punishment must be used judiciously and only when needed to facilitate behavioral change.

When discipline is necessary in the workplace, it's important for managers to avoid being excessively harsh or too lenient. If a boss lets a peon off with just

a warning for arriving late five minutes a few times every month, they should not also give their secretary who takes two weeks to deliver an "urgent" letter just a simple reminder to be more careful next time. Sometimes, managers may punish employees out of revenge or frustration rather than focusing on correcting specific behavior. Punishment should address the offense and aim to correct the behavior rather than targeting the individual person. By doing so, managers can improve results.

Taking an example of accomplishing tasks in a large organization, it is essential to manage pinpointed activities and the people performing them intelligently. Correcting the behavior of individuals is more challenging than focusing on the behaviors they exhibit. Punishing undesirable behavior, not the person, helps reduce ineffective behavior at work in the long run. Punishment must be applied consistently across people and time for it to be effective. Managers must strive to maintain consistency in the workplace, although it may be a difficult task.

Punishment should not include undeserved rewards as they can lead to repeated misbehavior. It is important for punishment to inform individuals of their mistakes and encourage them to change their behavior. However, there are more effective alternatives to punishment that focus on positive and negative reinforcement. Unlike punishment, reinforcement strengthens behavior and makes it more likely to continue. One alternative is combining punishment with positive reinforcement, as demonstrated by a forklift operator in a large supermarket warehouse - the highest paid non-supervisory job in the firm.

Despite being thrown out by his manager, Peter continues to engage in unsafe driving habits, showing off to others. Upon analyzing the situation, it was discovered that Peter's behavior

was being reinforced by the laughter of his coworkers. To address this issue, Peter was given feedback on his behavior and reassigned to warehouse duties. He was also praised for driving safely and carefully.

The belief of operant theorists is that reward is a stronger tool for shaping behavior than punishment. This is because reward indicates the desired behavior, while punishment only indicates what not to do. Skinner observed that society has moved from using aversive stimuli for control to using reward and organizations have replaced authoritarian management styles with democratic, rewarding ones. Organizational behavior modification theory proposes a Skinnerian approach to promoting good performance and eliminating unwanted behavior in the workplace. Hamner proposed a list of steps for introducing positive reinforcement, including creating an objective for measuring performance, setting specific and reasonable targets, and taking feedback from employees. The manager should praise the employee's positive aspects to encourage them to focus on their goals.

Using positive reinforcement instead of punishment has the benefit of promoting greater self-control. Punishment doesn't provide any control, while negative reinforcement encourages desirable behavior by removing negative consequences after desired behavior occurs. For example, a supervisor might say "if you admit it, your penalty will be reduced." Negative reinforcement has a longer-lasting effect than punishment and is less likely to disappear as employees consider whether it's still in use. In my view, relying solely on punishment can be difficult to implement effectively in the workplace because its impact is limited and short-lived. However, that doesn't mean that punishment can't work.

Proper application and the incorporation of positive reinforcement are necessary for successful implementation.

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