Behavior Modeling and Skills Deficiency

Although we might assume that we can readily identify the behaviors to be learned in all skill deficiency situations, many times one set of behaviors is not enough because the skill must be used in a number of significantly different types of situations.

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For example, in attempting to train salespeople to build rapport with clients or potential clients, we may find that one set of behaviors is not sufficient because there are many different types of potential clients. Po¬tential clients may, for example, be categorized as: a) reluctant, b) openly hostile, c) needing help in solving a problem, d) friendly, but uncertain of specific needs; each of these requires a different set of behaviors.

The first general rule for determin¬ing if behaviors can be identified is that behaviors that are very similar in several different situations need not be subdivided by situation. Secondly, if a specific behavior is a make-or-break behavior (as is the case of building rapport with an openly hostile potential client) and if it doesn’t occur in other situations, you must describe separately the be¬haviors needed to handle this situation.

A review of the training need at Homespun indicated that it would be advantageous to train supervisors to do the following:

1. Provide the employee with specific, descriptive behavioral feedback (for example, “You’ve been absent from work five times in the past two months.”).

2. Solicit the employee’s reasons for the problem and a commitment to solving it.
3. Outline, in specific detail, the terms of the probation.
4. Set a date for a follow-up discussion.
5. Express confidence in the employee’s ability to overcome this per¬formance problem.

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If you’re going to use behavior modeling, you must demonstrate a model of the specific positive behavior to be learned. For example, in developing a model to teach a person how to operate an automobile, we wouldn’t model an accident, which would be negative behavior. Instead, we would show the model taking action to avoid an accident; defensive driving would be positive behavior.

Also, the learners must view the model as credible. They must feel that the model “could have happened in real life.” If the learners don’t perceive the model as positive and credible, we must identify more characteristics of the target audience. Knowing these will enable us to develop a model with behaviors that would be positive and ef¬fective in that environment, while remaining credible to those learners.

A positive model for the Homespun supervisors was provided in a film in which two office workers were shown discussing the employee’s probation. The supervisor followed the appropriate skill behaviors, while the employee expressed some hostility and defensiveness in order to demonstrate a credible situation. The trainees focused on how the supervisor worked through the defensiveness to a problem-solving orientation.

Source : TRAINING MAGAZINE. Written by James C. Robinson and Dana L. Gaines

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