The management reinforcement strategies explained

Reinforcement strategies to be applied in an organization

The human resource is the most important aspect of an organization success, and towards the realization of its goals. Hence, every employee should be motivated in doing his function. Motivation is an important factor in persuading a certain employee to work at his best in every endeavor. Therefore, it is imperative that reinforcement strategies should be continuously conceptualized and implemented in order to sustain that employee's positive disposition towards his work.

Motivation, as explained, is "those factors that cause, channel, and sustain people's behavior." (Stoner & Freeman, p. 425) It is added that managers who find the key to their employees' inner motivations can tap an immense source of productive energy. Hence, these factors should be learned and used by the management in complement with other reinforcement strategies to motivate employees in attaining the desired result aimed by the organization.

Employees tend to slacken in their work over long periods of time; thus, continuous reinforcement strategies are implemented to sustain employees' desire to finish their job. Some of the strategies that belong to this category came out from Douglas McGregor's two different assumptions (Theories X and Y) about what motivates people. One reinforcement strategy along this line suggests that there must be continuous coercion and control of employees; they must be directed always on what to do. Hence, what are needed are strict and authoritarian managers. With this strategy, the cessation of work is not a problem; but employees are not mechanical objects, if this continues, more and more of them will resign. Putting emphasis on the human nature, if the management lets the employees freely use their imagination and creativity in their jobs, they derive satisfaction from their work, hence, high productivity results. But, the shortcoming of this strategy is that the end result of projects sometimes deviates from what was planned.

Continuous monthly commendations of employees with satisfactory outputs help in bolstering self-confidence, yet these must be complemented with rewards. Positive reinforcement promotes repetition of good work behavior. Examples of these are salary increases, bonuses and promotions. These motivate employees to work harder. Furthermore, the "reward or compensation must justify, in the employee's mind, the extra effort that improved performance requires, the reward must be directly and specifically associated with improved performance so that it is clear why the reward has been given." (Stoner & Freeman, p. 440) But the caveat is that the reward must be seen as fair by others employees so that they will not feel resentful or jealous. Being so might prejudice the interest of the organization in terms of employee work output. Rewards should be based on performance.

Other reinforcement strategies are categorized as negative reinforcements. Criticism of one's performance by a superior officer is one of these. A certain employee will feel humiliated by his low performance that in turn he/she is forced to work harder the next time. But excessive criticism is not beneficial to employees in the long run; they will feel alienated that eventually they will call it quits. Thus, admonishments and criticisms are supposed not to be made in the presence of others but in private. Demotion of one's rank is also included as a negative reinforcement. This may correct improper behavior but will tend to increase resentment of the demoted individual.

Edgar Huse & James Bowditch (1983, p 95) elaborated that an individual is most likely to be motivated when he or she has an opportunity to perform moderately challenging tasks in competitive situations in which performance depends on an important skill and feedback is given regarding performance. Although there is no perfect strategy to motivate an employee unceasingly, this observation, somehow, encapsulates all the categories of reinforcement strategies.


Stoner, James A.F. & Freeman, Edward R. (1989). Management (4th Edition).

Englewoods, Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall International, Inc.

Huse, Edgar F. & Bowditch, James L. (1983). Behavior in Organizations: A Systems Approach to Managing (2nd Edition). Reading, Massachusetts. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company