Behavior modification is a way of shaping and improving how employees behave in their place of work. Every leader should exercise behavior modification by using positive reinforcement to reward those who do excel. For instance, a leader can provide a year-end bonus for those who attain beyond the average level. Leaders can also use examples of behavior modification through negative reinforcement such as warnings and suspension of employment. These modification techniques encourage or discourage behaviors in the workplace if used successfully (Noonan, 2013). Ethical considerations come into play when leaders consider possible adverse effects of behavior modification on the other workers in the organisation and their ability as managers to use both negative and positive reinforcement.
The ethics of controlling others is the core ethical concern of behavior modification in the workplace. When leaders perform behavior modification, they encourage or force the workers to behave in a way that is not normal for them. In some instances, you might not see ethical issues with modifications (Noonan, 2013). For example, forcing a worker with specialized skills to perform a job that is not routine for her might cause unnecessary stress or anxiety despite the company benefiting from it in the short term. Behavior modification should bring the best in your workers and benefit the office.
Influencing selfishness or vicious competition among the workers is a concern in behavior modification especially in negative reinforcement. If a workers find a leader haranguing their co-workers for making mistakes, they might practice that behavior on their colleagues as they will consider it as part of the workplace culture (Noonan, 2013). Positive reinforcement may cause counterproductive competitiveness creating teamwork.
Fairness is the third ethical consideration in behavior modification. Most managers are capable of making decisions based on favoritism and discrimination. Leaders should consider their motives before punishing or rewarding employees in their office (Noonan, 2013). In some cases, the managers should be clear on why they are rewarding or punishing some of their employees to limit the amount of chatter and adverse reactions that their decision might cause.
Noonan, M. (2013). The Ethical Considerations Associated With Group Work Assessments. Nurse Education Today, 33(11), 1422-1427. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2012.11.006