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Change II: The Process to Create Significant Behavioral Change

Many factors lend to the success of organizational change. While creating a shift is a multi-layered effort, the golden key to long-term significant, substantial, and sustainable results is to influence behavior. Behavioral change is what transforms workplace culture and crafts the paradigm shift that most organizations are working towards.


When changing policies and procedures, the process is a bit more systemic and more easily mapped out because they are tangible and easier to measure. Behavior appears more difficult to impact because it involves bias, feelings, perspectives, and long-held habits, but you can approach effecting behavioral change with the same strategy, leading to incredible results.


The first step to behavioral change is to perform an organizational self-assessment. Map out where you are culturally as an organization and within the workspace. Identify specific behaviors or aspects of the organizational culture that need to change.


The self-assessment begins with a couple of simple questions.


·       What IS the culture?


·       What are the accepted behaviors?


Behavior creates culture and the lowest accepted culture IS the culture.


Personal behavior is traditionally difficult to change because behavior is deeply ingrained. It comes from decades of various forms of inculturation, personal bias, and other personal and environmental factors.


Workplace culture has its challenges because there’s a silent war that occurs within the organization. The war is between the official and the unofficial rules. There are the policies, procedures, and workflows new employees learn during onboarding and then there is what people actually do. Culture and behavior are determined within the first 90 days.


Behavior change is very possible, but it requires intention, a clear plan, and follow-through


For most people, it takes 66 days to change a habit, having clear goals increases success by 42%, having an accountability mechanism improves results by 70%, and having a tracking system also significantly improves success.


How do we measure behavior?


The best way to measure behavior and culture is by conducting pulse surveys. These surveys will include self-evaluation as well as include questions about their feelings about the workplace and organization as a whole. Pulse surveys can be mandatory but for the most honest and level-minded response, offer fun incentives for completion.


This invaluable feedback will provide the information to create future initiatives and develop the metrics needed to measure progress. Like with any relationship, problems arise simply because we aren’t aware of the small issues, gripes, or actions that become big blow-ups later. Awareness is key and pulse surveys allow us to know the employee experience and also how they experience their work environment.


From the feedback, then it’s time to define clear objectives and goals.


Clearly articulate the desired behaviors and outcomes you want to achieve. Establish measurable objectives and goals that align with the organization's overall strategy and vision.


Next, create a detailed change management plan that outlines the steps, timeline, and resources required for the behavioral change initiatives. Consider factors such as communication strategies, training programs, employee engagement activities, etc.


Once the plan is in play, monitor progress and adjust as needed.


Implement mechanisms to monitor progress regularly. This will include periodic pulse surveys and other key performance indicators (KPIs) you developed to assess the results. Be prepared to adjust the approach based on feedback and evolving circumstances.


Remember that implementing behavioral change is a complex process that requires patience, persistence, and ongoing commitment. In addition, flexibility is key as there will be organizational, personal, and outside social factors that will influence your goals. Every organization will have different goals and a different strategy, but once you have a clear idea of what your culture is and have team feedback, you can create a winning strategy that will change behavior, improve culture, and elevate business.


Article by Jamal Robinson, with editing by Patrick Voss




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