The 3 step rule

Written by Rimma Tertytska - 30.08.2014
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The 3 Step Rule

The 3 step rule is a method of correcting, adjusting, or controlling behavior in programs or businesses where strong measures are necessary for different, but important reasons.  Their general usage is in (1) treatment programs for substance abuse or other addictive behaviors, (2) in organizations in crisis, and (3) in business environments that require extreme measures to eradicate severely negative, long term management deficiencies.

The 3 Step Rule:

Step 1(Used when other less direct methods have failed) Identify the behavior that must stop, or perhaps must be used.

Step 2(Used when Step 1 fails to stop the negative behavior or fails to start the positive behavior.) Remind the participant of the behavior that must stop and identify the consequences of the repeated behavior.

Step 3(If the negative behavior is repeated the third time or the positive behavior is not used when necessary.) The identified consequences are implemented.

The three situations each use a slightly different approach to the 3 step rule but use it when necessary.

Situation 1 – In treatment programs there are often negative behaviors that are habitual in the program participants.  Behaviors such as cursing, being dirty, leaving dirty dishes for others to pick up, being generally disrespectful to other participants, and many more.  These behaviors’ are unacceptable in life in general and especially negative during the development of positive life skills.  Of course, the participants are told they should discontinue or start these behaviors and most agree and comply, however for many different reasons sometimes these behaviors’ persist.  In this situation the 3 step rule is one of the communication strategies often used to ‘break the habit’ or to help the resident ‘remember’ not to use the particular behavior or start and use the behavior in question.

Situation 2 – In organizations in crisis it is often necessary for high levels of control being taken by leadership in order to adequately respond quickly and accurately.  The normal protocols for management interactions with employees are sometime suspended for a period of time so that the business processes necessary for survival can be implemented to take quick decisive actions.  Normal employee development processes are temporarily suspended.  Everyone must carry out tasks exactly as instructed with no discussion and with complete accuracy.  If for any reason employees don’t comply with instructions the 3 step rule is often applied when there is no time for other normal processes.

Situation 3 – In the case where the business processes are extremely negative it is often necessary to create step by step development processes for these companies.  The 3 step rule is one of the temporary processes sometimes necessary to get the most negative leaders to begin the process of personal change.  These leaders freely fire employees, without warning, for some perceived failure or for reason they never disclose.  They yell, humiliate, and accuse without any common procedures.  When this business environment exists the 3 step rule is a movement in the right direction and is often the only agreed behavioral change the leader is willing to commit to.  Of course, this is a step and the development process continues, hopefully, in the direction where the 3 step rule in its basic form is no longer needed.

The 3 step rule is a valuable tool when used in the right organizational situation.  In treatment programs the consequences when implemented are often positive. In general a skillful manager, counselor, or consultant can use the 3 step rule in a very casual and comfortable manner.

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Posted Under: Developing
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