Dysfunctional Practices that kill your Work Culture (and what to do about them)

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This talk was filmed at the Behavioral Science: Applications in Leadership & Supervision Conference 2021

About the presentation: 
Our tendency is to blame workers for errors and label their personal failings as the cause of the error. Labeling does not solve problems that cause error and, frankly, it may all be an illusion of human perception leading us to false conclusions. Our human tendencies result in interactions that hurt the culture among our workers and the effectiveness of the systems we put in place to support them.  These tendencies build dysfunctional management practices that create fear associated with your workplace programs. I want to teach you a better way to analyze the behaviors of your employees to understand why they were put in a position to engage in the behaviors related to errors in the first place. Your system may be perfectly designed to promote risks and create error traps. We will build alternatives to labeling with dispassionate and actionable analyses to help build systems that help workers discriminate the best behaviors for the situation.  By analyzing the context of behavior we can discover ways to change your system to optimize behavior related to employee performance.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the dysfunctional practices that harm work cultures including labeling, blaming, single data-point management, and instilling fear through negative reinforcement.
  • Participants will be able to define behavior in the context of the work environment. We first define behaviors in a way that are as open to unbiased analysis as the elements of physics and chemistry. We define behavior as a dynamic variable, reacting every moment along predictable paths in the context of environmental events.  
  • Participants will be able to describe sources of Behavioral Variance such as behavioral variants of productive work behavior; those alternative competing behaviors that put your products and services at-risk.
  • Participants will learn how to discriminate the context when analyzing the causes of behavior.  We analyze the work context behaviors to understand why the worker was put in position to take the risk and/or avoid the desired behavior.  
  • Participants will be able to determine the system variable that need adapting to change behavior on a permanent basis across all workers.  We determine the management systems that need to be abolished, adapted, or built to change work contexts that encourage risk to ones that influence desirable decisions. 

About the presenter:
Timothy Ludwig earned his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech under E. Scott Geller continuing his post-doctoral work in industrial engineering studying applications of W. Edwards Deming to quality and safety improvement.  Dr. Ludwig is a past Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and former president of the Organizational Behavior Management Network.  His popular website Safety-Doc.com is a content-rich resource of safety culture stories, blogs, research, videos, and services.  Dr. Ludwig serves on the Board of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies (CCBS) where he leads the Commission on Behavioral Safety that reviews and disseminates best-in-industry safety practices.  

Dr. Ludwig is a Distinguished Graduate Professor at Appalachian State University where he teaches in the nationally recognized Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Resources Management Masters program. Dr. Ludwig’s teaching has been recognized with the North Carolina University Board of Governors’ Excellence award and has been inducted into the University’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers. 

Dr. Ludwig is the author of over 50 scholarly articles in Organizational Behavior Management that empirically document the successes of methods to improve safety and quality in industry through behavior systems design. His books include Intervening to Improve the Safety of Occupational Driving (2001), Behavioral Systems: Understanding Complexity in Organizations (2010), Behavioral Science Approaches to Process Safety: A Response to Industry’s Call (2018), Dysfunctional Practices that Kill your Safety Culture (2018), and The Science and Practice of Behavioral Safety: Reducing Injury on the Front Line (in press).

Dr. Ludwig has over 30 years experience in research and practice in Organizational Behavior Management where he integrates empirical findings into his consulting. Within his consulting practice Dr. Ludwig has helped assess, design, and implement behavioral systems, behavioral safety and quality improvement programs in over 50 companies worldwide.  Dr. Ludwig has delivered over 50 of his popular keynote presentations in 15 countries worldwide.