This is the third post in the series “5 Reasons Why a Change Management Strategy Matters“
Meaningful and sustainable organizational change requires a fundamental shift in the way people see things and feel about them which leads to new behavior. The new behavior must be based on individual conviction and choice, not fear or compliance.
Some key factors of behavior change include:
- Clearly defining the desired new behaviors as well as the undesired old behaviors. This is not always easy or quick. New behaviors should be clearly linked to desired organizational results. They should be clearly defined so as to be relevant to all who need to adopt them. Most importantly, leaders must be aligned and committed to them personally and collectively.
- Evangelizing the message beyond merely communicating. Change leaders should make the new expectation become dogma and preach it with passion, excitement, conviction, and ruthless consistency. This is only possible when those leading the change are truly converted themselves.
- Creating positive social pressure through leaders and other people of influence who model the desired new behaviors for others to follow. Leadership behavior is the single most effective and cost efficient way to infuse new behaviors in the organization. Ironically, it often is the most difficult to bring about. Relying on expensive consultants, training programs, communication campaigns, or the proverbial “rearranging of the chairs” will never yield the same change in behavior as leading by example. And it all begins at the top!
- Aligning support mechanisms to facilitate behavioral change and to assimilate the change into the culture. Examples of support mechanisms include: decision making, performance management, metrics, accountability, and rewards. See the next post in this series for more on support mechanisms.
- Using consequences to reinforce new behaviors and discourage old ones. Effective consequences are immediate, positive, certain, and visible. For example, a common tool but poor choice for reinforcing behavior is compensation. Compensation (intended as a positive consequence) can dissatisfy if it fails to differentiate superior performance. Compensation is not an immediate or visible consequence either. And because it is not easily linked to specific behaviors or performance, it may be not be perceived as consequence that is certain. On the other hand, a manager who consistently and regularly notices, acknowledges, and shows appreciation for someone who engages in the new behaviors may be a much more effective consequence than compensation.
These and other factors can drive behavior change. A well thought out and robust change management plan must include strategies to address these factors. The plan should enable the change leader/agent to accelerate implementation and to sustain successful change.