Changing yourself can be hard enough, but to change the way other people do things at work is even harder. In this short article, I’ve outlined some of the best approaches (IMHO).
Make it clear what a change in behaviour means in practical terms.
When Marks and Spencer wanted to truly cement their focus on customer experience in clothing, by improving every single customer touch point, they adopted an internal mantra along the lines of, “make every moment special”. Every word of this philosophy has been translated into concrete staff behaviours. Therefore, it is clear what this mantra means for the way staff interact with their customers.
Change the way other people do things at work with focused priorities.
Many efforts to change the way people work fail because they are lost amongst a hundred priorities. If customer centricity is your priority prove it! Don’t start with financial figures in your meetings. Instead, start with customer insights and data. Identify a handful of meaningful measures of customer satisfaction and make them universally available and understood. Then make them the first agenda item at every meeting.
Link personal goals to what you are changing in the business.
I have often shown sceptical client team members who are not sure of the value of a change project, how it will help them to achieve their own objectives. In the same way, if you can show an individual how the change you are proposing will contribute to achieving their personal goals and objectives, they are much more likely to adopt the change.
Make the behaviour change specific and concrete.
For goals to work, they need to be specific and concrete. The same applies to behaviours. Don’t ask staff to, “Meet daily to address performance issues” as this is too vague. Instead, ask them to, “Conduct a 10-minute stand-up meeting, each morning at 09.30am with just one agenda item – how to improve performance”.
Use if-then planning to change the way other people do things.
Humans are hard wired to change their behaviour when they have “if-then” triggers, says Heidi Grant (author of the bestselling Nine Things Successful People Do Differently). She claims, “if-then planners are about 300% more likely than others to reach their goals,” based on some 200 studies. If-Then thinking leads to specific goals. Rather than, “Always submit your monthly sales report,” have a goal, “IF it is the last Thursday of the month, THEN submit your sales report by 11am”. This starts to create a regular “habit” of submitting that sales report at the right time. For more on this approach look at Heidi Grant’s excellent article in the Harvard Business Review.
Tell people the changes you are looking for and start to monitor the results.
Simply telling people the behaviours you are looking for and that you will be monitoring this behaviour starts the change process. This well-known phenomenon is called the Hawthorne Effect. For example, in a study of Virgin flights, “informing captains that their fuel performance was being monitored and giving them personalised performance targets dramatically increased their fuel efficiency—in other words, they made flying decisions that made the operations more efficient”. This massively reduced carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs. Therefore, there was both an environmental and a commercial benefit (source – hbr.org)
Thank the heroes, but don’t celebrate them.
Nothing mobilises a team like a crisis! Problems, especially big ones, seem to bring out previously unseen levels of performance. The problem with celebrating the heroes, who work all night to fix a problem, or travel half way around the world to put a customer relationship back on track, is that we overlook the reason the problem ever occurred in the first place. Celebrate the individuals who recognise a broken process and repair it before a problem happens. Celebrate the “right first timers”!