A dog trainer was telling me that proximity and certainty are the most important components to training a dog.
Proximity is the time it takes for a dog to receive a reward after you’ve asked them to do something.
If you give them a reward as soon as they give you the paw they will associate the action to the reward encouraging them to do it again in the future. Wait too long and they fail to associate the two – thus the plan fails to encourage them to perform the right action the next time around.
Certainty is the expectation that the reward will come as a result of the action. The dog can’t randomly get rewarded or they stop associating the reward to the action – thus the plan fails to encourage them to perform the right action the next time around.
I write this because we’re also like animals in this sense. Maybe we don’t like to be compared to dogs but we are apes and though we claim to be “smarter” (by our own definition) than other animals – our motivations happen to a large degree at the animalistic subconscious level.
Giving someone a surprise bonus for christmas is a nice gesture but violates both principles.
Incentive plans like “employee of the month” is a nice gesture but violate both principles.
Meaning they don’t encourage whoever you are leading to perform the right action the next time around.
If an employee needs to wait a month to find out that maybe, just maybe they will win a reward – it’s not going to motivate them.
It would be best to create a system that rewards them immediately every time they perform the right action.