Affecting Behavior Change, LLC

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Running toward the Fire

Posted on July 19, 2019 at 7:55 AM

"They need your help."  I took off; running toward the area of the person in crisis.  Nothing serious.  But they don't call unless they feel they truly need my help.  Within 20 minutes, the learner had completed all tasks and transitioned back to where she was supposed to be.

I receive compliments daily at this contract.  Unheard of, right?! They talk about how I am the only behavior analyst they have worked with that goes running toward the "fire."  Isn't that what we are supposed to do?  We are there to help and assist.  I know I can't be at every "fire" and I train the staff to proactively and appropriately handle crisis situations, but to not be involved with your cases?!  How do you rectify that with our ethics and compliance code?  And your own integrity?

Isn't it our obligation to make the lives of the people we work with "easier?"  Model, demonstration, feedback.  If you aren't there or run from the fire, how can you ever show staff what's needed?  If you can't assist, is this the right position for you?  Do you need more training?

This one really hit home for me.  As a whole, I feel like there is a movement toward continuous improvement. But there is still complacency.  This makes us look bad.  We have to contend with inaccurate portrayals of our field.  And then, add on top of it, lack of support for the staff.  

Do you run toward the fire or away from it?  Let us know your story below.


Posted on July 13, 2019 at 7:35 AM

Check out ABC's most recent CEU; The Negative Effects of Positive Reinforcement

Summer Groups

Posted on May 31, 2019 at 11:10 PM


Posted on April 6, 2019 at 2:35 PM

I've Lost My Elevator Speech

Diversification.  It's a hot topic in our field right now.  I'm on board.  I got on the train, finished my OBM certficate almost a year ago now.  The CEU and professional development portion of the business are increasing exponentially each quarter.  I'm learning about marketing and human resources.  Applying everything I know and learn to ABC. 

Wow.  What am I trying to say?  What is it that I do?  My elevator speech went out the window.  I no longer knew how to define it.  It felt very disjointed and couldn't figure out how to cohesively tell someone what I did in 90 seconds or less. 

Within the first three pages of Tom Gilbert's, Human Competence, I knew.  This was what I was looking for!  Performance engineering gave me the piece that was missing from my puzzle.  Mediocrity is exacerbated in all facets of our culture.  In schools, average performance is acceptable for a free and appropriate education.  In business, average performance is the standard.  Most people's behavior does not vary from exemplars by much.  But that edge is the difference and what we value.  If we compare ourselves to average, we can never reach our full potential.

My elevator speech isn't complete.  But I'm getting closer. Redifining what you do and how you do it, finding your niche is exciting and daunting.  But so worth it (at least to me).

Leave a comment below about how you redefined yourself over the years (in business or personally).


Posted on April 5, 2019 at 7:35 AM

Get Your Staff to Meetings On Time

When meetings run late, it compromises the rest of the day for the entire department and even the company.  How many times have you been in meetings that run hours over and have to rearrange or reschedule the remainder of your calendar?

Fienup et al., 2013 "implemented a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) at a human services organization to reduce the tardiness of scheduled staff meetings. Following baseline, FBA focused on antecedent and consequence conditions that affected staff arriving on time to scheduled meetings. These data were subsequently presented at a staff meeting in which staff planned an intervention to improve the timeliness of meetings. The intervention, composed of premeeting reminders, positive reinforcement for arriving on time, and meeting termination criteria (to facilitate meeting-to-meeting transitions), was implemented in a multiple baseline design across 3 types of meetings. As a result of the intervention, the number of minutes late that meetings started decreased."

Premeeting reminders consisted of: meeting leaders sending an "e-mail 24 hours before a meeting to remind staff about when and where the meeting would take place. The meeting leaders also typed or wrote an agenda for the meeting to ensure that meetings stayed within the appropriate time block. A 50-min hour policy was enacted whereby any meeting scheduled for an hour was to end 10 min before the end of the hour to allow for transition time between meetings. To better monitor meeting time, it was suggested that clocks be placed in each conference room." 

Positive reinforcement for arriving on time included coupons for arriving on time. "Coupons, with the staff person’s name, were placed in a jar, and each month two coupons were drawn at thedivision-wide staff meeting. The staff winners exchanged their coupons for a $25 gift card. This incentive system stemmed from informal discussions among staff and not a standardized reinforcer assessment."

Would these interventions increase your staff attending meetings timely?  Leave a comment below to let us know what worked for your business.

To read the article, click here.

To get more information about consulting services to increase staff timeliness, click here.

I Made a Mistake. Now what? 4 Tips to Correct the Mistake

Posted on March 28, 2019 at 1:10 PM

Everyone hates being wrong.  Especially at work; when you've been at it for awhile.  We don't consider ourselves amateurs anymore.  We might even consider ourselves pros.  But mistakes happen.  Here's a story about something that happened in a recent consult I had:

I was working with a personal aide in school and she was horrified that she offered the learner she was working with a piece of chocolate while he was engaged in challenging behavior (i.e. calling others stupid, saying, "I hate you" or "You're fired").  Well, here's the backstory: Mom sent in cookies for lunch that the learner did not like.  He was really upset about it.  When others tried to engage him, with all intentions of helping, it escalated the behavior.  The personal aide waited until he was calm (even if it was only a few seconds) and offered him chocolate.  The challenging behavior stopped.  The learner walked to his next class (engaging in appropriate behavior the whole time).  And the aide delivered the chocolate.

Was she all wrong?  No.  She waited until he calmed.  The aide had him engage in appropriate behavior before delivering the reinforcer.  Here's where I think she could use some help.  Instead of offering chocolate, knowing it is highly motivating to the student, she could have stated, "Thanks for standing quietly.  When you have appropriate behavior, then you get chocolate."  The contingency management statement changes it from enticing to expectation.  She could have also used the contingency management statement at precursor behaviors (i.e. throwing the cookies away and saying he wanted something else).

We all make mistakes.  We are all human.  The point is that what we do after is most important.  

What steps can we take to rectify the mistake?  How do we error correct?

1. Apologize and fix it.  Sometimes apologies are warranted and when they are, make them-SINCERELY!  If you can fix it, own it and fix the problem.  If you can't, figure out a way that it won't happen again or how you can do damage control.  And share your plan with the people effected by your mistake.

2. Think about what could happen.  Plan ahead.  You can cut possible mistakes off at the knees if you have a plan for how to address them before they are even an issue.

3. Think on your feet.  If you see a situation not going the way you want, how can you course correct?  Commit to the redirect and do it.

4. If it doesn't work, abandon ship.  Decisions need to be made quickly before issues get even bigger.  If it's not working, cut your losses.  Try plan B...or C...or D.  That's why planning ahead is essential.

Leave a comment below about how one of these 4 Tips could have changed an Oh @#$% moment when you made a mistake.

The Easiest Performance Improvement Tool

Posted on March 22, 2019 at 10:25 AM

Performance improvement is always a hot topic; whether you are addressing your own or your employees. 

Feedback is one of the most important consequences in a leader's toolbox.  It lets the employee/staff know what they are doing well and what needs improvement.  How do staff know what to do more of or less of without ongoing communication?  It also solves leaders' problems with ensuring quality staff are hired and maintained.

Here's an example from one of the agencies I consulted with:

The Problem

When I worked with the largest healthcare company in their field in the region, they were having difficulty maintaining quality staff.  Looking at their onboarding process, attendance at orientation was the only requirement for them to move on to next steps.  One of the orientation days for clinical staff required new hires to demonstrate the needed skills to succeed at the company.  The new hires showed their abilities on current patients.  If the supervisor did not feel the new hire demonstrated skills to fluency (fast and accurate over time), the new hire would be placed with a preceptor for additional training.  However, there were no criteria for fading of the preceptor.  The preceptors did not rate if the new hire now had fluency in all needed skill areas.

The Solution

As part of the intervention, with input from the preceptors, supervisors and executive management, we developed a behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS) for providing feedback to new hires/staff and to make decisions about onboarding and continued employment during their skills day, at the end of preceptor training and for ongoing performance reviews.  We assessed if the new hires/staff performed duties to fluent mastery, if they needed two or less verbal prompts to perform the skill, if they needed supervisor demonstration of the skill or could not perform the skill at all.  This allowed management to determine how long preceptor training was needed or continued, if the staff continued to perform at mastery levels and played a part in performance improvement bonuses.

This was an easy fix to help onboard/maintain quality staff that is still used today within the company.

Using Rating Scales as Part of Staff Feedback to Improve Performance

Feedback without information about performance to back it up is subjective.  One of the easiest ways to objectively provide feedback is to use rating scales as part of performance evaluations.  

To develop BARS, every key task performed by the staff member needs to be known and defined.  Additionally, there needs to be an understanding of all behaviors displayed by individuals that carry out these key tasks. Each behavior is rated and anchored to points on a rating scale, which indicate whether the behavior is extraordinary, fully competent, or unsatisfactory. The result is a rating scale for each task.

For example, in a hypothetical position of housekeeping aide at a hospital, one of the performer's responsibilities is to empty the patient's trash.  The BARS for this task could be ranked as follows:

3 — Extraordinary performance: Empties trash in all rooms and offers greetings and small talk to patients.

2 — Fully competent performance: Empties trash in all rooms and greets patients.

1 — Marginal performance: Empties most trash and ignores patients.

0 — Unsatisfactory performance: Does not perform task or performs less than 75%.

BARS are easy to use. The behavioral indicators make managers and employees aware of expectations.

BARS are objective. The evaluation process is defined and the same for every employee.

BARS are individualized. It promotes consistency within a company.

BARS are action-oriented. Standards of care are known, and staff know what they need to do to improve.

Leave a comment about what specific behavior using a BARS with your staff you would target to improve.

Pushed Beyond Limits

Posted on March 19, 2019 at 8:10 AM

How someone attempting to intimidate me enhanced my practice as a BCBA and leader.

To see the video click here.

Why ABC is a Continuing Ed and Professional Development Provider

Posted on March 7, 2019 at 9:15 AM

“Why?,” you ask. Why CEUs? It has to do with my love of learning! #values #purposedriven #AffectingBehaviorChange #continuingeducation #professionaldevelopment

Check out the video here.

Learning Outside of Your Field

Posted on March 3, 2019 at 12:40 AM

It's not often that I share my personal feelings on the Blog or Social Media.  For whatever reason, I feel the need.

I signed up for a business school professional development course.  B-School by Marie Forleo to be precise.  I've been following her work for about 4 or 5 years...maybe even longer.  She's amazing and talented and someone who has created the life she wants to lead (in business and personally).  Who doesn't want that?!  So, I finally took the plunge and joined B-School.

Well, B-School hasn't even officially started yet.  It drops Monday.  But, I've been completing the bonus modules.  It's amazing and I'm so excited about it but at the same time I have this uncomfortable feeling.  I know part of it is fear, but it's more than that.  I'm learning, have gotten clarity on a lot of my goals and generated new ideas from the content.  So, what's the problem?  

Honestly, I think it's what everyone goes through when they start something new.  We're beginners and aren't used to being amateurs.  After the number of years you spend in your field and becoming really skilled, or even an expert, starting from the beginning again is scary.  And exciting!  It makes you better in your industry because you now have more knowledge than you previously did.  You're able to bring a new set of eyes or a different strategy than you had before.  

Being an eternal student, I love learning.  And hate it.  No, I just love it.  But always have the uncomfortable feelings creep in when it goes beyond the context of the field where I've spent more than half my life.  Do I believe it?  Is it a credible source?

Do you go through this too?  Share your thoughts in the comments!