- It shapes culture. When new employees join your company, the way they behave is heavily influenced by organizational culture.
- It shapes decisions. The decisions employees make are more informed, innovative, and creative when they understand business context.
- It shapes innovation. Employees need to feel supported to make changes – in response to changing markets, technical advances, and customer demands – and the ‘all businesses must adapt to change to survive’ model only works when organizational behavior is supportive of change.
The Behavioral Change Model for BusinessesThe flow of the model looks something like this:
Circumstances: Everything starts with a set of circumstances. Circumstances can be anything from an issue with an employee, a dissatisfied customer, or a challenge with a project. The circumstances are whatever the situation is that has us feeling stuck, frustrated, or even angry.
Thoughts: When faced with these circumstances, we begin to have thoughts about them. And more often than not, our thoughts tend to be negative due to something psychologists call the “negativity bias.”
Feelings: Those thoughts create our feelings.
Actions: Our feelings spur us into action.
Results: Our actions produce our results.What’s this all look like in real life? Let’s say you have an executive or key staffer with a history of reacting badly with employees when they make a mistake or something goes awry. The executive gets mad and just makes the situation worse with some angry comments. What’s a manager/ coach to do?
Putting the Model into PracticeFirst, the manager / coach would set the stage by describing the circumstance as something like, “An employee made a mistake. What are your thoughts about that?” The executive, if inclined to be honest, might say, “We can’t afford those stupid errors. They can get us in hot water with regulators or ruin our customer relationships.” Next, the manager / coach would then ask the executive how those thoughts make them feel. The executive might say something like, “Frustrated. Angry. Thing are out of control. I’m worried about the company’s reputation.” Now, the manager / coach would ask, “And when you feel that way, what do you do? What action do you take?” Again, if the executive is being honest, they would admit to blowing up and unloading on the employee. Finally, the manager / coach would then ask the executive what the results are of that action. The executive might notice that employee morale is low, or that employees have lost trust in them.
So….How Do We Change This BEHAVIOR FOR BETTER RESULTS?If we want to effect positive change, we need to intervene early in this sequence. And since we can’t change circumstances (they are what they are), we need to help people appreciate how important it is to manage their thoughts if they want to be successful. Here’s where the real magic of this model lies. The manager / coach would walk the executive through the same process of looking at the circumstances, the thoughts that come from those circumstances, the feelings that those thoughts create, the action that those feelings spark, and finally, the results of the actions. But this time… the manager / coach would ask the executive to think of other, different thoughts that they believe to be just as true as their first thoughts. Here’s how that conversation might go:
Manager / Coach: “Ok, so the circumstances are exactly the same – an employee made a mistake. What are some different thoughts you could choose that are just as true for you as the first thoughts you had?”
Executive: “Well, first I might think that this is an isolated mistake – the kind everyone makes once in a while. Or I might get curious about why the employee made the mistake. Is it a training issue? And if it is, is it just that one person who needs training, or does the whole department need training on that topic?”
Manager / Coach: “Great. When you think those thoughts, now how do you feel?”
Executive: “I feel curious, calm. More in control. If it’s a training issue, we can fix that.”
Manager / Coach: “So what action might you take from those feelings – curiosity, calmness and control?”
Executive: “I might talk to the employee to see what happened, and if it’s a matter of just a simple human error or if they don’t know or understand the process. Then, based on their answer, I can determine what we need to do.”
Manager / Coach: “What do you imagine the results of those actions might be?”
Executive: “Better employee relations and improved communication and better training, which, hopefully, will lead to fewer mistakes.”
Better results all around.If you are interested in learning more about the impact of professional coaching and behavioral change for your business, contact Vikki.Nicometo@kcoe.com, or visit: K·Coe People for more information on HR services. —————— Vikki Nicometo is a talent advisor and Certified Life Coach and a part of the K·Coe People team. The team is comprised of talent advisors who are experienced HR professionals, consultants, and coaches. Vikki regularly shares this model to help businesses create better solutions.