We don’t believe you can successfully change people’s behaviour for good without controllable environments — and the right pieces in play. Unfortunately, many companies try very hard, spending a tremendous amount of resources, to modify employees’ behaviour within their own corporate context. And, despite the outlay of time and money, they fail miserably in the long run.
Why organisations repeat this failed experiment, over and over, is difficult to grasp. Millions of reasons might explain why management teams try again and again to modify the behaviour of their workforce, yielding only incremental results at best. But the most likely rationale always points to self-interest, either of a particular group or perhaps of an individual within a group. When organisations experience such one-sided behaviour, the hope and potential for real and genuine change fades away.
The Real Trouble Behind the Effort
Our work with clients has illuminated several factors involved in unsuccessful leadership attempts to forcefully change people’s behaviour. Essentially, management does not address or understand the root causes of the problem of people’s adaptability to change.
Factor 1: Decision Making
People make decisions based on their values, not based on facts. Often, leaders fail to hire and retain talented people who share the organisation’s values. Consequently, they continue to waste time and money in trying to change employees’ behaviour to align with the company and perform in the way that management wants them to do. Since this type of effort will never be sustainable in the long run, don’t do it. Corporate resources are far better spent if leadership focuses on building organisational values that are truly and widely accepted by the workforce, rather than using costly incentives to change people’s behaviour for a specific objective for a specific short-term period.
Without shared values, it becomes almost impossible to expect people to pursue and ultimately achieve the same outcomes. There is a strong link between behaviour and values, so that you cannot change behaviour without understanding what people truly value. If you want to transform your business, the place to start is…