Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rewards and Reinforcements

If you are going to make a change, you need to develop the environment for that change to thrive.

You have identified the behavior changes you want to reinforce, right?

From here, it’s time to start evaluating your current environment.

  • What is happening in your environment NOW that will support the changes you wish to make?
    • This includes behaviors people in your environment are already demonstrating.  The more you can support what people are already doing; the less dramatic the change will seem.
  • What is happening in your environment that might block the change?
    • Which obstacles can be easily removed?
    • What needs to happen to remove those obstacles?
  • How dramatic is the change in mindset required?
    • The more dramatic the mindset change, the more time, patience, and reinforcement will be required.

Once you know where you are at, you can review your destination.

  • Is there something new you need to put in place to support the change?
  • Are there reinforcement mechanisms already available in the environment that just need tweaking?
    • Can you add the behaviors to the performance evaluation process?  What is required to do that?  Do you have that level of support?
    • Can you add the behaviors to the job descriptions and career ladders?
  • How open is your organization to different reinforcement techniques?
    • Has your organization tried gamification before? How successful was it?  What worked and what didn’t?
    • Do you have the funding for prizes?
    • Do you have reward mechanisms already in place for collaboration and mentoring?  What would you need to build that?

As you and the organization work through the change, it is up to you to develop the environment for that change to thrive.

Think of it like a scientific experiment. Try one thing. Is it working? Did something else appear that you didn’t anticipate?  Are people gaming the system? Is there an adjustment you can make? Is there something else you can try?

Rewards and reinforcement do not have to be expensive.  They just have to be consistent across the system and across time.

Resources – Amazon Affiliate Links

The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook: The Complete Guide

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Safe Spaces

The second most important thing you can do as a leader is to provide safe spaces for change.

(The first most important thing you can do is model the change yourself).

Find a way to create a safe space – no matter how “high stakes”.

This is where “pilots” come in.

Tiny, quick projects to test the idea.

Pilots perform multiple, essential functions:

  1. A pilot allows you to see whether the change will work.
  2. A pilot lets you see where the sticking points will be around within the change
  3. A pilot creates people who model the behavior and can then spread that behavior among their colleagues.
  4. A pilot helps you confirm your behavioral reinforcement strategies

Ideally, these pilots are low-stakes.

Don’t let an argumentative, impatient, high-stakes team bulldoze you into making them be your “pilot.”

These teams tend to

  • Do things that are central to the operations of the organization
  • Have no patience
  • Squawk as soon as things “go wrong”
  • Spread that discomfort to the rest of the organization
  • Derail any future efforts

You will know who these teams are pretty quickly.

Fundamentally, you want your pilot to be a team that is impacted by the change, but any problems that appear do not paralyze the organization.

My best tactic is to explain to the impatient, high-stakes team that we want to do a small pilot so that we minimally impact their critical work.  We want to get the majority of the kinks out first.  By waiting a short period of time, we save them significant time and energy.

The argument doesn’t always work at first. Find an example from the organization’s history where their impatience made a change more difficult than necessary.  Document and share with your project champion and your team.

Find an example from the organization’s history where their impatience made a change more difficult than necessary.  Document and share with your project champion and your team.  Do your best to cool the high-stakes team’s jets.

Don’t know what law this is, but I found the following to be true:

“The higher the stakes, the more likely things are going to go wrong.”

Your attempts to create a pilot (a safe zone for the change) with a lower stakes team may not work, but at least you have the documentation if things go off the rails.

Resources – Amazon Affiliate Links

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Modeling Behavior

For any change, particularly changes that are significantly different from “the way we’ve always done things around here,” it helps to provide explicit models of the new behaviors.

Development of that model starts with you, even if it is not clear that it is your “job.”

Are you thanking your team for their hard work?

Are you sharing the impact the team’s work has made – even if it is “unfinished”?

Are you using and sharing the tools and techniques the team members have developed?

How are YOU modeling the behavior?

The second stage is finding a small group of people who are demonstrating the behavior.

Find people who are close to the “action.”

What are they doing?  How are you going to celebrate them?

How can they share the process they went through to make the change?

You don’t need many.  You just need people closer to the individuals impacted by the change.

Ideally, the folks impacted by the change look up to the people modeling the behaviors.

The closer the modelers, the more relatable the change.

Remember that change is a process.

People need multiple exposures to a particular change for them to absorb it for themselves.

Change – in mindset and behavior – is not a “one and done” activity.

Resources – Amazon Affiliate Links

The Success Principles(TM) – How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be