Learning from The Apprentice

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn our home we’ve gone nearly a year without cable or satellite television. Admittedly, I still go through TV withdrawals. I miss The Amazing Race and The Apprentice more than any other shows. Both are fascinating to watch as people compete to win grand prizes, both teach valuable real-world lessons too.

In The Apprentice two teams compete in projects – one team wins. The winning team receives a reward. The losing team has someone fired from the show; a fairly simple concept. After all the firings take place a single contestant emerges and is hired as the apprentice.

So what can be taken away after sifting through the emotions, drama and hair pieces?

  1. Reward Immediately: As soon as the winning team is announced they immediately receive their prize. In the show the reward is often being whisked off to some amazing event or experience. This allows the winning team to enjoy their reward while the excitement of the win is fresh.  The feeling of winning is great, reinforcing the win by rewarding right away helps increase its value. Reward now, don’t delay.
  • Delaying the reward may result in less excitement or willingness the next time a contest arises.
  1. Discipline Later: In contrast, the losing time returns to their apartment and is called into the boardroom only later in the day. Yes, this helps build the show’s drama as participants begin placing blame and coming up with strategies for saving their own hide. In the real world a delay creates time. Time for cooler heads to prevail. Time for more rational and less emotional thinking. Time to understand the cause of the mistake or failure. Disciplinary actions taken in the heat of the moment are often regretted later.
  • Disciplining immediately could result in poor decisions or lamentable actions that weren’t well thought out.

Hopefully you are rewarding far more than disciplining. It’s a lot more fun (for everyone) to hear “You won!” or “You’re Hired” than to hear “You’re Fired!”


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