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Three Steps for Accomplishing Change in a Resistant Company

By now, you are probably excited about changing your company’s approach. Giving employees a piece of the action makes sense. Eat-What-You-Kill companies outperform other companies. Employees of Eat-What-You-Kill companies are happier and better motivated.

Eat-What-You-Kill is a competitive advantage. Implementing it for your unit or your company will allow you to outperform your competitors.

However, how do you change the behavior of your unit or your company? How can you change the behavior of your colleagues, your employees, and your bosses?

There are three steps towards changing human behavior: 1) Education

People must know both why and how to change before they can change. Change is new and difficult. People will not change unless they understand the reason for changing. People will not change unless they understand exactly what they have to do.

To change human behavior, you need a teacher. 2) Performance Measurement 

People will not change unless they are:

     –     Given tools to measure their progress

     –     Measured on their progress

In business, companies often tell people to change. However, companies rarely give the tools to measure their progress. In addition, the bosses continue to measure them on the same old measures (quarterly EPS, market share, etc.).

This is why so many new management ideas fail.

Athletes, students, and business people progress better if they have tools to measure their performance (fastball speed, weekly pop-quiz results, and defects per million). Athletes, students, and business people progress better if they are measured (weekly conference ratings, GPA, and stock price performance.). 3) Incentives

“People will not always act in their own self-interest, but it is a good horse to bet on.”

If you do not change incentives, you are sunk. You can do all the education you want, but people will not change. You can come up with all-new, nifty performance measurement schemes, but people will not change unless their compensation keys off the new performance measures.

The following graphic summarizes what is needed to change human behavior.

First, people cannot change unless they first know why and how to change.

Second, even if they know why and how, people will not change if lack the tools to measure their performance and if they are measured using the wrong standards.

Third, the final step is incentives. As the sage Al Rappaport used to say, “People will not always act in their own interest, but it is a good horse to bet on.”

You need all three layers to change human behavior.

For tough and resistant business cultures, you need to first educate, then implement new performance measures, and then link the measures to compensation.