Mar 14, 2009

Easiest way to change behavior?

According to this blog post , it lies in making the change easy and desirable for people (and animals)

In your company, think about what you want people to do and whether the environment around them supports the behavior.
A client was complaining to me that his receptionist was not warm and friendly with people when they walked in. Guess where the receptionist sat? Think bank teller. That's right. The receptionist sat behind a glass window! Don't send her to communication training. Just remove the glass.
A friend of mine, the principal of a school in Boston, wanted to increase student engagement. They should talk to each other, he lamented, not just the teacher. He came up with a great solution.
He didn't send out memos. He didn't retrain all the teachers. He didn't print posters and hang them in the classrooms. Instead, he rearranged each classroom, placing the chairs in a semicircle, so the students were facing each other as well as the teacher. Voila.
If you want your employees to talk with each other, knock down the walls. If they sit in ten different countries, use Skype and a video camera permanently attached to their computer so there's no set-up time and it's always sitting there, impossible to ignore. It makes a world of a difference.
You want to make it easier to do something you want done and harder not to.

The lion that sat so royally on the rock at the top of the hill, day in and day out, for all the park visitors to see?
It turns out the rock he sat on was temperature controlled. It was warm on cold days, cool on hot days. No need to train the lion or tie him to the rock or hope he likes the view. Just make the rock a place he wants to sit.

Too often as HR people we look at addressing change problems using monetary and non-monetary rewards, or resorting to training without pausing to reflect why people are not changing behavior and addressing that issue.

Don't be like the chap who has a hammer and therefore thinks of all problems as nails.