One of our core Communication Skills is Shape Performance with Reinforcement.  There are several techniques we cover when teaching this skill to District Managers or Store Managers.  I happened to have a more diverse group today that included Regional Presentation Managers, L&D, and some DMs.

We were talking about how we sometimes reinforce behavior or performance we didn’t intend to.  I made the comment that even when you aren’t skillful you are still shaping something.  When you ignore poor performance or when you minimize good effort with little comment.  We began talking about how this skill might be used by staff support folks who are often in the role of asking people who don’t report to them to do things by a certain deadline, etc.

As the discussion unfolded I told the group that if a DM is ‘cc’d’ on a communication to their stores and it wasn’t strong or effective it was a perishable moment they shouldn’t lose.  They, the DM, had the opportunity to shape the performance of their support folks by giving them feedback about how to better craft a more impactful message to their teams.  We talked about how making those who support the stores stronger was good for everyone.

Shaping isn’t just for your direct reports is the message the group got.  We began to have a lively discussion about other ways to strengthen the entire organization by looking for ways to make everyone’s performance better through feedback specifics and shaping techniques.  The group appreciated learning about how to broaden their thinking about skill use.  They liked the equality approach and promised to use it soon.  How about your company?  How do you encourage peer-to-peer support?  Share a comment here or tweet us @mohrretail.


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.