Strokes, Games and the Drama Triangle
Transactional Analysis as it may be applied in Organisations.
Human beings are stroke junkies. By stroke, I mean the TA term for a form of recognition, be it a smile, or a frown, or recognition for a job well done, or punishment for poor performance.
What is the stroke economy of your organisation? How much recognition is given for a job well done? How much attention is given for a job poorly done? If your employees are conditioned for negative strokes, they’ll do things to get them, and vice versa. This lends some credence to the idea of catching people doing things right.
Experimentation has shown us that we would rather receive negative strokes than no strokes at all. In fact, research in the 1950’s has shown that stroke deprivation can actually kill us – hence the penchant for solitary confinement as a passive, yet rigorous form of torture.
We also know that we are conditioned from childhood, for certain types of strokes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we become addicted to certain types of strokes. For instance, if a child only receives negative strokes, it is likely that positive strokes have little or no impact on him, and he will go about looking for negative strokes to feed his stroke hunger. He has developed what we call a negative stroke economy.
Effective leaders know that the more emphasis they put on good performance, the better the performance they get. While poor performance is not acceptable, it is also not stroked. Poor work is merely returned, without criticism, and requested to be re-done. When done well, the stroke given is sincere, and potent.
Our stroke economy does not change overnight, but organisational well-being depends on it. The key is consistency; consistent non acceptance and non-attention for poor performance, and consistent, deliberate recognition for good performance. And most of all, when the changes come, and come they will, remember to stroke yourself (yes, I said it!) for a job well done.