Border patrol can be described as a group of designated officers patrolling the border of a country (Stana, 2007).  Its main responsibilities include monitoring roads and some airports where illegal immigrants are known to concentrate.  Border patrol normally assist in reduction of crime in border communities and in the process improves quality of life for a countrys citizens, they deter illegal entries through improved enforcement, apprehend terrorists and terrorist weapon as well as detect and apprehend human and drug smugglers (LeMay, 2007).  However, in order for the Border Patrol to perform its work effectively and efficiently, it needs to be motivated into giving its very best.

The most important aspect of any organizational success towards realization of its goals is the human resource and therefore every worker needs to be motivated in performing hisher assigned tasks (Romeero  Kleiner, 2005).  For this reason, reinforcement strategies must be implemented and continuously conceptualized for employee motivation to be sustained in the course of performing hisher function (Podmoroff, 2005).  Employees who are constantly motivated are vital for ensuring the success of an organization and are considered necessary in modern day rapidly changing workplaces. 

Managers are therefore expected to understand what exactly motivates their employees within the context of the tasks they engage in (Griffin, 2006).  However, they also need to keep in mind that since the workplace is rapidly changing to suit the modern day demands of individuals, those elements that motivate employees also keep on changing (Maril, 2006).  In addition, as workers get older, they should be assigned more interesting work as a motivational source as compared to performing the daily routine tasks.

Reinforcement Strategies used by Management to Motivate Employees
The term reinforcement can be defined as a term in behavior analysis meant to deliver a stimulus, either immediately or shortly after a response, resulting in an increase in future rate or probability of the response (Latham, 2007). It is a mechanism used to reward good behavior and remind the individual of the behavior, enhancing its application in future.  Border Patrol employees are constantly and faced daily with numerous challenges where they are at times forced to employ force while combating illegal immigrants or smugglers (Maril, 2006).  However, they are also rewarded for good performance while handling them.  It has been observed that those managers who are able to find the key to their workers inner motivation are in a better position to tap a vast source of productive energy, leading to an organizations success (Griffin, 2006). Therefore, factors causing, channeling and sustaining employees behavior should be learned and used by an organizations management together with other reinforcement strategies in order to motivate the workers in attaining the desired objective of the organization (Podmoroff, 2005). 

There are a number of different reinforcement strategies that management can use to motivate employees for instance provision of good salaries and wages, promotions and making them feel they are a part of the organization and that their ideas and concerns are important (Romeero  Kleiner, 2005).

These reinforcement strategies can be categorized into positive reinforcements, continuous reinforcements and negative reinforcements.  Organizations may choose to use different forms of reinforcement strategies or choose not to employ any at all.  While an organization may use negative reinforcements to discourage those behaviors perceived as not being in line with the organizations policies, it may use positive reinforcements to reward and encourage repetition of the desired behaviors (Griffin, 2006).  As concerns continuous reinforcements, these are those reinforcements employed to ensure sustainability of employees desire to complete their assigned tasks in the organization.

Positive Reinforcements
These forms of reinforcements are similar to rewards although the behavior is more likely to occur in future because the consequence is presented dependent on the behavior (Latham, 2007).  Positive reinforcements have been observed to be the most effective tools available in an organization for the motivation or direction of the actions of other individuals in addition to being an explanation of behavior (Stana, 2007).  When a positive reinforcement is employed, the desired result is that the behavior is reinforced and that the employees understand the importance of the desired behavior, making them want to repeat it for the rewards (Griffin, 2006).

An example of a positive reinforcement that management can use to motivate its employees is that of the management greeting employees.  In a situation where employees of a small manufacturing plant wait until the last minute to clock in thereby causing them to report to their duties late, the manager of the firm may decide to greet as well as meet with those employees who clock in on time (LeMay, 2007).  By smiling at them and making pleasant conversation with them while they clock in, this procedure will cause the rest of employees to start clocking in on or before deadline just so they can get an opportunity to chat with the manager (Podmoroff, 2005).  In the case of Border Patrol officers, management can make a point of checking in on them personally from time to time, getting to question them on how they are progressing and encouraging them not to hold grudges.  By so doing, the officers will feel motivated by the fact that the management is personally concerned about their individual well-being and therefore will put more effort and have a  positive attitude in their assignments (Romeero  Kleiner, 2005).

Negative Reinforcements
These reinforcements are usually used to discourage a particular undesired behavior and also employed for reform or education (Latham, 2007).  They strengthen a particular behavior by removing an aversive stimulus.  Negative reinforcements have often been confused with punishment despite their being different.  While negative reinforcement strengthens a particular behavior by removing the undesired stimulus causing the undesired behavior, punishment is meant to weaken a particular behavior as a consequence of the negative behavior (Griffin, 2006).

An example of negative reinforcement is whereby an employee criticizes his employees performance.  As a result, the employee will feel humiliated, embarrassed by hisher low performance, and will therefore be forced to work harder and put more effort next time to avoid the situation (Maril, 2006).  Another example is that of negative reinforcement is that of demotion.  By so doing, an employee is motivated to work harder to get back to hisher previous position and it also serves as a lesson to other employees who might want to lag behind (Stana, 2007).  The same case can apply in the case of Border Patrol.

Continuous Reinforcements
Continuous reinforcements ensure that desired behaviors in individuals are reinforced every single time they occur (LeMay, 2007).  They are usually employed during the initial stages of learning so as to create a strong link between the response and the desired behavior. Once this is employed, the reinforcement can now be partially or completely withdrawn since the intended behavior will have been reinforced (Griffin, 2006).

An example of continuous reinforcement is provision of interesting work.  During the initial stages of employment, it is crucial that the management personnel assign interesting work to the new employees in order to ensure that they put as much effort into the assignment as possible, giving their best since the work is interesting (Stana, 2007).  After a while, managers can then decide to either not assign another interesting work until they observe any negative changes in the employees input into the task.  This form of reinforcement can prove helpful in Border Patrol since the employees have to handle different cases and different individual attitudes in the course of performing their assignments (Maril, 2006).

Strengths and Shortcomings of the Reinforcements
Recent studies conducted on reinforcement strategies used by management to motivate employees have revealed that application of different reinforcement strategies have their strengths and shortcomings within an organization.  For instance in the example of the manager greeting hisher employees, even though it may have a positive outcome in that the employees will feel encouraged and motivated to report earlier or on time, its shortcoming might be that they may become familiar with the manager (Griffin, 2006). As a result, they may tend to think that since they are familiar with the management, they may get away with certain mistakes, which might prove disadvantageous for the organization in meeting its goals.

In the case of reinforcing negative reinforcement as is in the example of demotion, although it may positively encourage employees to put more effort in their assigned tasks in future, it may also discourage the demoted employee to a point of resignation (LeMay, 2007).  A similar case applies in continuous reinforcement whereby even though employees may have the morale and zeal to work hard during the initial stages, its shortcoming may be that they may tend to feel cheated once the reinforcement has been partially removed or completely removed, making them put less effort in future (Latham, 2007). These examples can be applicable in the case of Border Patrol.

An individual is inclined to feel more motivated when they have an opportunity to perform tasks that are considered moderately challenging in competitive circumstances whereby performance is determined by an important skill, providing feedback regarding the performance.  Even though there is no perfect strategy to motivate an employee, managers should ensure that they employ available reinforcement strategies in order for it to achieve its set objectives in future.


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