Describing the
18 Skills

These skills are not hard to see once they have been distinguished from a host of other skills that look much alike, but do not have the same effect.  For example, the 18 skills do not automatically add up to “personal charisma.”  They can be equally displayed by quiet people.

The successful employee can be hard-driven or laid-back.  He can even be a “leader” or a “follower.”  It doesn’t matter.  The skills are so powerful that they supersede personality and style.

Anyone can practice them.  Anyone can learn them.  And more to the point, they lie in the realm of performance objectives.


Group Dynamics USA
38 Woodbine Ave.
Stony Brook, NY 11790
Phone: 631-751-4340

The 18 Skills...

Out of the hundreds of ways that I could have characterized success, I focused on these factors.  They are at the center of productivity, and they are present in varying degrees in all employees of the company.  The more they occur, the greater the flow-of-work [F-O-W]. Here are the 18 skills.  I include easy-to-remember descriptions, technical names, explanations, and examples:

1- Modelling [Modelling That Increases Imitative F-O-W Behavior]

The employee demonstrates productivity, on-task behavior, cooperation, teamwork, behaviors that connect him to others and aid staff retention, behaviors that result in customer satisfaction and competitive behaviors aimed outside the company.  But he does them in a particular way.  His behavior results in like behaviors in other employees.  In proximity to him, their F-O-W behaviors increase.  It doesn’t count if his performance provokes a downturn in the performance of others, no matter how good it looks.  It has to be effective modeling to receive a score, and it is something that can be taught.  John identifies those behaviors which enhance Flow-Of-Work and he engages in those behaviors himself, choosing to demonstrate them in a way that others can catch on and emulate him.  He is careful to set this up in a way that encourages rather than dissuades.

2- Cueing [Providing Discriminative Stimuli for F-O-W Behavior]

The employee is setting up the conditions under which F-O-W behavior will be demonstrated.  He is showing forethought and planning in terms of the factors we value in a company.  Given a chance to communicate with other employees, he focuses on those interactions in whose presence F-O-W behaviors will be manifested.  He knows about flow, he’s interested in flow and he wants to make it happen.  John uses clear and helpful language and gestures in ensuring that others will respond in a way to increase Flow-Of-Work.  He has learned to select those “stimuli” that will encourage Flow, rather than stop it up.

3- Praise [Use of Positive Reinforcement for F-O-W Behaviors]

The employee has learned what kind of stimuli increase the incidence of F-O-W behaviors and he supplies them, often enough and quickly enough so that they merit the description, “reinforcer.”  He has fellow employees following the arc of a learning curve in increasing performance of F-O-W factors.  John is quick to respond to the efforts of employees to fulfill their job descriptions and engage in behaviors that enhance the Flow-Of-Work.

4- Strategies [Alternatives to Applying Aversive Stimulation]

The employee has enough skills in his arsenal that he does not rely on punishment to shape the behavior of those around him.  He avoids the application of aversive stimulation to a situation and he is aware of the effect of punishment in promoting a general suppression of all kinds of behaviors, desirable ones as well as undesirable ones.  He avoids those stimuli that will block flow.  John withholds negative, critical, shaming talk in favor of the skills listed here.  He knows that a harsh word is likely to provoke the employee to pull away and slow down.

5- Cautioning [Selected Use of Negative Reinforcement, Avoidance Type]

The employee evokes increased F-O-W behaviors by withholding aversive stimulation.  The other employees have enough experience, either with him or in general, that they will increase F-O-W in order to avoid the appearance of aversive stimulation.  John lets other employees know that there is a possibility of a negative consequence, where there has been a logjam and where it is more helpful to mirror anger than try to assuage it.

6- EQ, (Emotional Quotient) [Selecting Cues and Consequent Stimuli To
Reduce Emotional Reactions that Limit F-O-W]

Respondents are emotional reactions to situations, and the ones that limit flow interfere with on-task behavior.  They don’t always do that; a mild degree of frustration or anxiety or agitation might motivate F-O-W but as the intensity increases, people become blocked and make mistakes.  The employee distinguishes between motivation and the kind of discomfort that slows things down.  John keeps an eye on the Flow and runs interference for the employees, giving them a sense of security.  He understands how agitation, anxiety and other strong feelings limit Flow.

7- Bite-Sized Pieces [Shifting Criterion for Reinforcement]

The employee notes that his fellow employee has mastered a piece of a larger and more complex behavior.  He shifts to reinforcing the next piece of that behavior.  This shift in criterion reflects the employee’s analysis of the complex behavior, having broken it down into more easily mastered pieces.  John is more interested in encouraging Flow than in leaving the employee with the responsibility to learn something new.  He walks the employee through a complex task by making sure the early steps have been learned.  He wants to avoid the arousal of emotional reactions that slow Flow.

8- Little Steps [Selective, Heightened Reinforcement of the First Early Aspects of a F-O-W Behavior]

The employee gives extra feedback of a positive evaluative nature at the beginning of a new learning exercise, so that the fellow employee can experience success without the arousal of emotionality that will block F-O-W.  John nurtures a new behavior pattern by giving a lot of positive and helpful feedback in the beginning.  He understands he especially needs to do it when the employee finds the new behavior foreign and cannot give himself feedback about whether he is on the right track.

9- The Big Picture [Cues and Informational Prompts that Increase Executive Functions]

The employee provides information in a variety of ways that helps fellow employees not only act on their job descriptions, but recognize and be able to explain how their duties contribute to the larger picture.  The employee does this in a way that increases F-O-W.  John uses information and educational gatherings often to strengthen the employee’s mental map of the company as a whole.  He helps the employee understand the importance of his own work, how it fits into the company’s mission, and how stepping outside the confines of the job description is warranted at times by the needs of the company.

10- Informational Feedback [Evaluative Feedback Which Increases F-O-W Behavior]

The employee reinforces behavior with information about what worked, what was done right, what contributed in a positive fashion, and in a way that increases F-O-W behavior.  There is an astuteness to the dangers of reducing F-O-W due to emotional reactions elicited by the contact.  John gives feedback in a way that sets up the conditions for even more Flow in the future.  He understands that he can reinforce behavior with information so that he can speed up and cement the Flow condition.

11- Positive Presence [Presence Around Others that Acts as a Reinforcer]

The employee occasions F-O-W just by being present.  There is something positive, motivating, and encouraging in his behavior and demeanor.  John inspires others when he comes to work, and when he steps into a room.  His presence has so long been associated with good experiences that he sets up an expectation more good things will follow.  His use of alternatives to punishment allow people to Flow in his direction.  They know from their history with him that he nurtures Flow and is not about to cut it short.

12- Reframing
[Maintaining F-O-W Behavior in the Presence of Perceived Stressors]

The employee is able to continue to demonstrate F-O-W behavior as a situation which he perceives to be stressing threatens to block or reduce his flow.  He makes a mental adjustment in the way he perceives stress.  He may diminish its stressful properties in his mind, or he may completely turn it around, so that distress is transformed into good stress.  John walks an employee through situations that historically arouse an emotional and work block.  He explores the ability of the employee to consider these situations in a new way, or to shift his identity to that of a stress-handler.

13- Shifting [Maintaining F-O-W by Substituting Another Behavior]

The employee demonstrates a transfer in his pattern of work when something has occurred to prevent him from operating in his preferred manner.  He does so without a significant decrease in F-O-W behavior.  John encourages employees to improvise as they have to, and focuses more on the spirit than the letter of the job description.  This is possible because he sees each job description as needing to be elastic enough to fulfill the company’s mission through Flow.

14- Peripheral Vision [Responding to Environmental Stimuli in Maintaining and Increasing F-O-W]

The employee can respond to other stimuli besides those necessary in his immediate work, so that he can talk about what he has seen, what the wider needs are in his department, what opportunities arise in the work environment.  John works with employees so that stimuli that might distract them or lower Flow cease to have that effect.  He does this by working with belief systems, habit structures and new responses.

15- Resilience [Maintaining F-O-W Behavior in the Presence of Mild to Significant Aversive Stimuli]

A change in the environment of the sort that would predictably increase emotionality and suppress behavior does not affect the F-O-W pattern.  John helps employees maintain their Flow in the presence of no-to-mild environmental stressors.  He programs the introduction of stressors to “thicken the employee’s skin” to stimuli that ordinarily decrease Flow.

16- On-Task [Selecting F-O-W Behaviors that are Incompatible with Off-Task Behaviors]

The employee is able to organize his work around those behaviors that in their form and technical structure prevent access to off-task activity.  John understands the “idle hands” concept, and he works with employees to find positive and engaging outlets for their energies throughout the work day.

17- Creativity [Selecting New Performance Indicators to Maintain and Enhance F-O-W]

The employee is able to define new areas of performance that increases F-O-W and is within the latitudes of his job description, moving beyond its literal reading where flow will benefit.  John allows experimentation with behaviors outside the job description, even allowing a drop in Flow for a bit, to see if Flow will rebound and increase.

18- Before And After [Identifying Antecedents and Consequents that Increase F-O-W Behavior]

The employee specifically selects stimuli in whose presence F-O-W increases.  John purposely studies what behaviors of his set the conditions for Flow, and then reward Flow.  He studies what environmental factors do the same.  He formally arranges cues and reinforcers to heighten Flow in the company.


This cluster of skills shows us the forward flow of company accomplishments, and it reveals the dam points, where things are getting stopped up.  In the simplest fashion, a low incidence on these scales equates with resistance, logjams, bottlenecks, slowdowns, problems and blocks.  A high incidence insures a more easy flow in the company, and between the company and its consumers.

The set of 18 skills serves as an instrument for gauging what is happening in the company.  These behaviors can be directly observed, they can be counted, and their effect on Flow can be measured.  A report on these skills in the company can let the owner know where there is Flow and where there is stoppage.

This assessment is straightforward and transparent.  Therefore it is a teaching tool as well as an instrument of evaluation.  It gives management and identified employees a clear indication of goals and steps to achieve them.  All the behaviors listed above have been chosen because they come to terms with blocks and lay out the path to resolving them.  These behaviors are pinpointed to such a degree that they require training, to differentiate them from behaviors that slow or limit the flow-of-work in the company.  Once they are learned, they give the company the edge it has been looking for.

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