To start off Cowen’s book is not all that awe inspiring as Harford’s book was to me. Cowen gives examples of ways of offering different incentives for different situations or signaling to convey messages. For example the looking good while tortured section. He states different ways of signaling; 1,2,3 and 4 or however many, then he gives different situations and tell how each would work for the different situations. “In situation A, 1 is not possible which leaves 2 and 3 the best options but if such and such then do 4” or what have you. Like Cowen said “you don’t remember most of the book anyway” or something to that affect and I don’t remember what he said to do in a torture situation. The only thing that I have found useful and remembered from the book are the “post card” thing and the part about giving different incentives to people to get them to do something and not pay them.
At work I am a very angry and bullying employee. I see you doing something that will in the end make me have to work more and do your job too, I’ll let you know, and not very nicely. I don’t have a lot of time throughout the day to do my job and other too. I’ve been with the company for 5 and a half years and that’s 4 years longer than anyone I work with, so I know the ins and outs of most everything there. Everyday it’s the same thing, people not thinking ahead when they do or not do something. And every day I have to stay a half hour extra to fix their mistakes. I could just leave; and leave all the problems to someone else but that is not who I am. I hate it when stuff gets dumped on me so I don’t dump things on others.
When I read the section where Cowen was describing getting the girl to do the dishes not because her parents paid her but because she would have an incentive help the family as a whole, a light went on in my head. Maybe the incentive I was giving my coworkers “do it right or ill yell at you” was not set high enough for them to respond to it. I should yell louder and longer to raise the incentives a bit. However I’m tired of yelling and I just want them to do it right so I don’t have to do it later. Plus Cowen makes the point that negative incentives are not as effective in some situations as positive ones. It was time for me to try something different.
So Sunday I waited till someone did something right so I could positively reinforce that action and maybe get them to continue doing it right and wanting to do it right from now on. That didn’t happen… I had to wait till Monday day. Finally someone did something right and to my amazement it was the guy that does everything wrong and the one I yell at the most. So I went over and said nice things and told him I appreciate that he did such a good job and wished that others would follow his lead. It was hard for me to change into a nice person but I did it and it worked nicely. He actually came over later in the day to ask if he did something right to get my approval again! And this guy avoids me; something I tried hard to instill in him because I can’t stand his constant singing to himself. Well he didn’t do it right so I showed him how and said he gave it a good shot but wasn’t perfect and explained it to him for the ten millionth time how to do it right but in a nice way.
It was nice to have him come to me to make sure it was right before he messed everything up like normal. And today he did his prep-work perfectly and didn’t leave any steps out that would mess everything up later. There we have it, one less thing for me to make sure is done properly. Cowen showed me that changes in incentives can have a powerful effect even if those changes are small but applied correctly. Maybe I’ll not be such a jerk at work and nicer to the people that constantly screw up. It worked on the worst guy hopefully it will work on the others. Until then I just have to wait till someone else does something right, I’m not going to hold my breath on that J On a side note why am I getting these people to do their jobs right, isn’t that the job of the managers? Dang it! Looks like I’ll have to start at the top and get them to do their jobs too. Gerrr more work!