Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Presenting with Dave Ulrich and Insights on Behaviour and Change

DSCN5240.JPG  I'm in Bogota, Colombia presenting later on after Dave Ulrich (he's my warm-up today and I'm returning the favour in Chile on Friday.)

There have been loads of great insights as usual, but I particularly like this one - that influencing someone to change, eg transforming the perception of HR, is about providing information, changing behaviour and reinforcement.

Changing behaviour is an interesting one - the idea is that by making someone behave as if they believed something they become more as if they believed it.  For example, one of the best ways to retain high performers is to involve them in recruiting new employees.  By getting them to behave as if they are committed makes them more committed.  I quite like that.


It's not that new of course and has been one of the most prevalent aspects of change management over the last 20 years.  The theory used to be that we should change peoples' attitudes because that would have deeper impact on them than simply changing the behaviour.  But about 20 years ago we started to understand this was just too much hard work and that changing behaviour was often the best we could do to change peoples' attitudes.

I thought Jamie Duck summed it up quite well in the Change Monster:

"According to conventional wisdom, change works like this: You start by getting people to buy into a new corporate vision, thereby changing the attitudes.  They will then automatically change their behaviour, which will result in improved corporate performance.  After seeing this improvement, they will confirm their commitment to the corporate change programme, and the success spiral will continue.

Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to expect that kind of response in most companies these days.  By now, the troops have been through so many of these programmes that they’re sceptical.  Companies today are full of ‘change survivors’, cynical people who’ve learned how to live through change programmes without really changing at all.  The new programme is just another management fad in an endless series of management fads.

In most companies, the real context for change is exactly the opposite.  Top management should start by requiring a change of behaviour, and when that yields improved performance, the excitement and belief will follow."


But I wonder if we're starting to progress beyond this again now though.  People are now much less receptive to being asked to do things they don't agree with or believe in.  Doing this has the potential to reinforce the individual's existing perspectives, and increase cynicism about the organisation too.

But I still thought the example was quite neat.


Anyway, that will do for today's session.  I would share more but Dave keeps saying he hopes his most interesting stories don't show up in the media, and I think he's talking about me.


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