Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #32
CE Offered: BACB — 
Optimizing Employee Performance at Multiple Organizational Levels
Saturday, May 27, 2023
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall A-C
Area: OBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sharlet D. Rafacz (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Nicole Gravina (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Sharlet D. Rafacz, Ph.D.

There are a number of assessments and interventions that are utilized to improve performance in organizations. However, how and when to use these assessments and interventions requires further research. The current symposium looks at several studies aimed at optimizing employee performance, that is, knowing what to intervene on, in what way, and at what organizational level to make the best use of resources. The first two studies will focus on treatment integrity – first at the performer level and second at the systems level. We will provide data on how procedural errors impact treatment integrity and discuss how analyzing them at the systems (organizational) level informs intervention. The second two studies will then highlight how we can utilize untapped resources and customize multi-component interventions. Specifically, we will present research on using co-worker communication to motivate employee performance and how priority weighting and goal difficulty affects behavior and results on performance scorecards. Implications for how these findings can influence decisions and interventions organization-wide will then be discussed. Overall, these studies will highlight how data can be utilized to enhance employee behavior and provide guidance to organizations on how to select and customize interventions for optimal employee performance.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Organizations, Performer, Systems, Wokplace
Target Audience:

Intermediate – Background and/or education in ABA, familiar with single-subject and group design research methodology, understanding of rule-governed behavior

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe how procedural errors affect learning post-mastery 2. Identify the benefits of aggregating and analyzing treatment integrity data and several actions supervisors can take with these results 3. Describe how motivational statements impact performance and the benefits of incorporating co-workers as a source for these statements 4. Critically evaluate the priority weight component of performance scorecards
A Parametric Analysis of Procedural Integrity Errors Following Mastery of a Task: A Translational Study
(Basic Research)
LEA JONES (California State University, Sacramento), Denys Brand (California State University, Sacramento), Galan Falakfarsa (California State University, Sacramento), Joshua Bensemann (University of Auckland (New Zealand)), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Megan R. Heinicke (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: Procedural integrity can best be described as the extent to which interventions are implemented as intended. Previous research has shown that errors involving consequences can delay or impede skill acquisition. However, not much research has been conducted to evaluate the extent to which such errors affect performance for skills that have previously been mastered under conditions of perfect integrity. To further examine this question, a group design was used to administer a computerized match-to-sample task to 100 undergraduate students. Participants first completed 250 trials with no programmed errors, which was followed by an additional 250 trials with varying levels of errors delivered across conditions (i.e., 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% integrity). The results showed that, on average, those assigned to higher integrity conditions performed better, while performance for those in the lower integrity conditions deteriorated rapidly. These results extend the findings of prior studies and further demonstrates how consequence-based errors affect behavior across various stages of learning.

An Analysis of Large-Scale Procedural Integrity Data

(Applied Research)
ABIGAIL BLACKMAN (Behavior Science Technology), Tricia Glick (Behavior Science Technology), Troy Glick (Behavior Science Technology )

Procedural integrity is the extent to which an intervention is implemented as designed (Gresham, 2004). Research shows that integrity impacts clinical outcomes (e.g., DiGennaro et al., 2005; Gresham et al., 1993). That is, higher clinical outcomes are associated with higher levels of integrity. Supervisors are tasked with the responsibility to collect integrity data on their team’s performance, as required by the board (BACB, 2020). However, it is unknown how these data are collected, or what analysis and subsequent action supervisors or organizational leaders take once the data are collected. With the permission of our customers, deidentified integrity data were aggregated and analyzed across a few hundred employees. All data were collected electronically and aggregated to display performance over time. Based on these data, suggestions for subsequent supervisor and organization-wide action are provided to improve their organization-wide and team’s performance, and ultimately impact clinical outcomes. We posit that organizations must use their integrity data to guide their individual, team, and organization-wide supervision efforts. The benefits of aggregating and analyzing integrity data, as well as recommendations for what supervisors should do with those data are discussed.


Does Source Matter? Examining the Differential Effects of Supervisor Versus Co-worker Delivered Motivational Statements

(Applied Research)
SEAN BORBOA (California State University, Fresno ), Sharlet D. Rafacz (Western Michigan University)

Recent research suggests that statements by supervisors may function as verbal motivating operations and alter employee performance, but it is unknown if similar effects would be seen if delivered by another source. The supervisor is usually the primary agent of change in performance management practices. However, given the numerous job responsibilities of a supervisor, it would be beneficial to examine the potential effects of interventions delivered by a source other than the supervisor, such as a co-worker. The current study used an analogue work setting with a simulated new hire orientation, a confederate supervisor and co-worker, and concurrently available work tasks. There were 10 participants and a single-subject, counterbalanced reversal design was used to investigate the effects of alternative sources of rule statement delivery on employee performance. Despite some mixed results, overall findings support the performance-enhancing effects of motivational statements. Additionally, responding to the different sources delivering the motivational statements (i.e., co-worker versus supervisor) was comparable and suggests the source of rule delivery in organizations may not matter. As such, it is possible that motivational statements delivered by co-workers is a viable, cost-effective way to motivate employee performance, though additional research is needed to confirm these findings.


The Effects of Priority Weights on Performance Scorecards

(Applied Research)
SHARLET RAFACZ (Western Michigan University), Alfonso Hernandez (California State University, Fresno)

The field of Organization Behavior Management (OBM) frequently utilizes multi-component interventions, one of which is the performance scorecard. The performance scorecard combines elements such as goal setting, feedback and reinforcement to increase 3-5 behaviors or results. In addition, these behaviors/results are weighted so that some types of performance receive more credit than others. It has been suggested that this is beneficial and communicates relative priorities to employees, but how this affects performance has yet to be empirically tested. Therefore, the present study investigated manipulation of priority weighting and the effect on performance on concurrently available tasks in a workplace analogue. The study included five participants and utilized a single-subject multiple baseline and reversal design to compare equally-weighted and priority-weighted scorecards. Overall, there was an increase in performance when a scorecard was introduced relative to baseline (no scorecard condition). Results also suggested that priority weighting had some influence on behavior, including increases in behavior weighted more heavily but also decreases in behaviors weighted less heavily. However, additional variables such as goal difficulty and task preference, also influenced the effects of the priority weights and deserve further consideration.




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