“If at first you don’t succeed try to hide your astonishment.” Harry Bank
Since I have become much more involved in assisting companies to restructure their operations (“Doing More With Less. And Doing It Better.”) I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon: managers believe they are making their own choices about changing the operation, without being influenced by things that are going on around them. Yet, to a great degree, everyone’s actions are determined by their environment. For example, dieting research shows the reasons we eat have little to do with hunger and a lot to do with items in our environment: if we eat off a big plate, we eat more; if we eat chicken wings & remove the bones from the table, we eat more; if our wine glass never gets less than half full, we drink more; the more people we eat with, the more we eat!
Apply this information about behavior to the workplace by thinking about what you want Employees to do and whether the environment around them supports the behavior you want to see occur. This means you need to create a work environment that makes it easier for Employees to do what you want done and harder for them not to do what you want done. For instance, if you want more Employees to participate in a program (i.e. the 401K), automatically enroll all the Employees and require them to opt out of the Program. Or if you want to eliminate overtime, develop a compensation system that doesn’t reward time spent working, but rewards the timely completion and quality of the final product.
The Bottom Line: The traditional way of viewing Employee work behavior (“Employees will do what I tell them to do because I tell them to do it!”) is less and less effective.
Question: Rather then trying to change the behavior (always very hard to do!) caused by the existing work environment, why not try changing that environment?