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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Get Your ABA Staff to do What You Want Them to Do

“Bringing out the best in people: How to apply the astonishing power of positive reinforcement” by Aubrey C. Daniels has a tremendous amount of great information for anyone to use in their personal or professional lives. This post will be one of a series of posts that will highlight some of Daniels’ helpful ideas for helping people become their best selves.

The book mentioned above can help you as a manager or supervisor to help motivate your staff, help you to help the parents and families you work with, and even help you in your personal lives.

You can find Daniels’ book here:

As a supervisor or manager (especially as a BCBA), it is very important to use time wisely. Time is valuable. We all have loved ones who we would like to spend time with, we have responsibilities and things we have to accomplish, and our clients’ lives matter. We want to make the best use of time for our clients’ sake as well as our own. Our clients’ time is important; We want them to succeed, to work toward their potential, and to help them to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Therefore, we need to find strategies that “bring out the best in people.” This is important when trying to manage our direct service staff. It is important to use strategies that actually work and that help our staff to provide the best quality services possible. This is in contrast to just throwing out another idea that may or may not be effective or just doing what we feel like might be a good idea because we like the idea personally.

One point that Daniels makes in his book is that “PeopleĀ  frequently don’t do what they are told. If we always did what we were told, we would eat only nutritious foods, never drink too much alcohol, and exercise regularly.”

Daniels points out that businesses are often run as if people do actually do what they are told most of the time.

Daniels states that to successfully supervise staff and run a business, you should consider the antecedents and consequences of a behavior. These concepts, in the field of behavior analysis, are referring to the events that come before the behavior (antecedents) and the events that come after the behavior (consequences).

The antecedents set the occassion for a behavior to happen and the consequences influence the likelihood that the behavior will happen again in the future. Daniels states that businesses often invest more heavily on antecdents as compared to contrasts.

Both antecedent and consequence strategies are necessary in business management. However, there is a limit to the effectiveness and long-term benefits of antecedents. Marketing is a popular and often useful antecedent strategy, but consequence strategies get consumers to continue to come back.

Regarding antecedents, novel strategies are more effective than doing the same thing over and over again.

Daniels states that threats are an example of antecedents. Threats come before the behavior you are trying to change, so threats might change the behavior in the moment, but they will not change the behavior for the long haul. Only consequences (what comes after the behavior) can make the behavior happen more or less often in the future.

Threats without follow-through on the consequence will also not be very effective after awhile, either, if people learn that a consistent consequence will follow. However, this gets into another area of concern, because punishment is less preferable to reinforcement. Reinforcement “brings out the best in people” whereas punishment may make them do the minimum just to avoid that punishment at that time.

According to Daniels, “louder, longer, and meaner antecedents will not give us the consistent performance we require from our work force.”

Reference: Daniels, A. C. (2000) Bringing out the best in people: How to apply the astonishing powere of positive reinforcement. The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Get Your ABA Staff to do What You Want Them to Do

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2016). Get Your ABA Staff to do What You Want Them to Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from