A coworker asks when you will get them a particular piece of work. You ask them, “When do you need it by?” What’s their most likely response? “Yesterday!” Everybody needs everything “yesterday,” and that’s one of many reasons why it is so hard to bring about behavioral change. We work in an environment of constant urgency. Anything that will slow you down must be avoided at all costs. Changing behavior slows you down. Your fastest gear is automatic; you can do most quickly what you already know how to do.
How do you help people change ineffective behavior in an I-need-it-yesterday world? First, start with the pain. “If something ain’t broke don’t fix it.” One way people know when something is broken is when it’s causing them a lot more effort and frustration then necessary. Help them see how their own actions or inactions are contributing to this breakdown, and they will be open to exploring replacement behaviors.
Next, the new behavior must be something that is easy to do, and must fit seamlessly into the pre-existing workflow. Any change that interferes with the ability to deliver on schedule is too costly, and will quickly be abandoned.
Finally, we must create easily run test conditions so that the old behavior and the new behavior can be tried and compared side by side. People leave my training committed to implementing new, more effective behavior not because it’s something they’ve been taught in class, or because a respected authority recommends it, but because they’ve have had the direct experience that this new behavior enabled them to produce faster, more effective results with less personal wear and tear.
The secret to behavioral change is to give people a profound experience that makes them more effective and gives them greater satisfaction. That’s change they will believe in.