Someone’s been feeding the ducks
Sitting outside at my in-law’s cottage with my husband and two good friends watching the water on the river, we saw a group of ducks swimming towards shore. They didn’t stop, they came right up and walked up the lawn towards us. Our friend went inside to retrieve his phone to take a photograph and immediately the ducks all turned at the same time and started walking towards the cottage and waited for him to come out. When he stepped out, they surrounded him, all standing at his feet looking up in anticipation. Obviously someone has been feeding the ducks.
When you start noticing certain behaviour at work, where the employees all start following a similar script, it is safe to assume that someone has been feeding the ducks.
The questions to ask are:
What behaviour is being rewarded…?
Is it intentional…? Is the behaviour positive and productive…?
Sometimes we can unintentionally reward bad behaviour such as praising people when they get something done quickly. However, we need to consider what behaviours were involved in achieving that outcome; it is possible that they took some short cuts, refused to collaborate or share information, or took credit for others’ work.
Once employees realize that bad behaviour is rewarded, they may either copy it or they may leave. Neither is an intended consequence.
Be intentional about what behaviour is aligned with the values you want demonstrated at work, not just the results, and reward that.
Photo credit: me. Featured: Jay The Duck-King, my Duck-King friend.