The Power of Positive Reinforcement: A Conversation with Bill Sims
As a podcast host, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with some of the most insightful minds in various industries. Recently, I had the pleasure of welcoming Bill Sims, a renowned author, keynote speaker, and motivational speaker, to my podcast. Our conversation revolved around his book, “The Green Beans and Ice Cream Book: How to Motivate with Positive Reinforcement,” and the profound impact of positive reinforcement in the workplace.
The Genesis of “The Green Beans and Ice Cream Book”
Bill’s book is a foundational piece that branches off from his work in safety. Although he is well-known in the safety world, the book’s principles are applicable to anyone who leads and wants to change behavior. The idea behind the book is simple yet powerful: we are adept at telling people what they did wrong, but often fail to acknowledge what they did right.
Bill fondly recalls his mother using positive reinforcement during his childhood, offering him ice cream if he ate his green beans. This focus on the positive led to improved performance, a principle that Bill believes can be applied to the workplace.
The Challenges of Leadership and the Importance of Positive Reinforcement
During our conversation, we delved into the challenges of managing people and the lack of leadership training provided to new managers. Bill emphasized the importance of soft skills and the need for effective training in leadership. He shared a study that found only 4% of major executives had received effective training in safety leadership.
We both agreed that performance reviews often focus too much on the negative and fail to provide immediate and specific positive reinforcement. Bill explained that reinforcement needs to occur promptly to be effective.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Remote Working
The pandemic has undeniably changed the way we work, causing a shift in people’s mindset and giving them a chance to reflect on their lives. Working from home has become more popular than ever before, and CEOs are struggling to adapt to this new reality.
Bill believes that the positive reinforcement of working from home, such as spending time with loved ones and avoiding long commutes, has led to this change in behavior. We shared our personal experiences of working from home and how it allowed us to have a better work-life balance.
The Financial Implications and Changing Expectations
We also discussed the financial implications of working in expensive areas and the need for organizations to attract employees by offering more than just a physical office space. Bill emphasized the importance of positive reinforcement in the workplace and how it can improve performance.
He suggested that leaders should invest time in getting to know their employees on a personal level and recognize their contributions. He provided a simple model for giving meaningful feedback, which includes knowing who the employee is, acknowledging their specific actions, and explaining why their work matters in the context of a larger vision or mission.
Adapting to the Changing Expectations of Employees
We concluded our discussion by highlighting the need for businesses to adapt to the changing expectations of employees, especially the millennial generation. We believe that if organizations fail to meet these expectations, employees will seek opportunities elsewhere.
Bill encourages viewers to embrace the power of positive reinforcement, not just in the workplace, but in all aspects of life. His insights serve as a reminder that acknowledging and appreciating the good in people can lead to improved performance and a more harmonious work environment.
John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.