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The Psychology of Schedule Checks

A key area of opportunity that Trindent focuses its approach on is behavior. When our engagements have a mandate to drive team productivity, our implementation plan always includes an Active Management training module.   

However, having your managers attend a training session doesn’t guarantee success.  A manager has to be able to make the leap from theoretical knowledge to consistent practice, and this often proves to be a stumbling block.  It takes time for most people to get comfortable with change, especially when it’s behavioral.  Trindent’s active management program has proven to be successful in overcoming this hurdle with the help of one key component – the schedule check. 

Schedule checks are two quick meetings that managers have with staff every day.  The first one sets out expectations, and the second facilitates follow-up and positive reinforcement.   Managers are asked to adhere to this daily recurrent interaction with their team until it becomes a habit and a motivation tool.

The Psychology of Reinforcement

The Law of Effect theory proposed by Edward Thorndike states that “actions followed by desirable outcomes are more likely to be repeated while those followed by undesirable outcomes are less likely to be repeated.”  B.F. Skinner’s theory on operant conditioning, which uses the Law of Effect as its basis, states that “actions followed by reinforcement will be strengthened and more likely to occur again in the future.”

Put simply, actions resulting in desirable outcomes lead to acknowledgment and praise, so the conditioning of a certain behavior through the use of positive reinforcement becomes a powerful tool.   

In keeping with Skinner’s approach, Trindent utilizes the power of positive reinforcement in its approach to implementing organizational behaviour change.   The schedule check is the means by which the necessary positive reinforcement can occur.  

How to Effectively Use Schedule Checks

The first meeting of the day is a manager’s opportunity to lay out their expectations, and to get the team’s agreement on what targets are to be achieved.  The second touchpoint, towards the end of the day, is used to follow up on what was agreed to in the morning, to see if it was achieved.  

Was the target met?  If yes, the manager uses recognition and praise to reinforce that this is the type of behavior and accomplishment that the department wants to see.  However, if the target is not met, the second touchpoint becomes an opportunity to provide constructive feedback and suggestions on how to get back on track.  It’s not the use of negative reinforcement that’s most effective in this case, but the withholding of positive reinforcement pending the desired outcome. 


Psychology plays a fundamental role in every relationship, including those in the workplace.  In order to successfully implement behavioural changes that improve team productivity, organizations need to recognize the power of positive reinforcement and how it can drive those changes. 

Click here to read more about how Trindent’s approach can help your organization implement behavioural changes that will drive your bottom line.