Getting to the Heart of Real Change

on October 26, 2018

Recently, we’ve been thinking about all the different ingredients that go into creating real change that sticks at work. It’s universally hard – no doubt about it. But at least everyone knows they’re not alone in it, so we’re always seeking to learn and understand more. Every now and then in that process, something bubbles to the surface that sheds new light on how to make change happen.

Obviously you need a purpose and a strategy and a plan, that’s pretty much accepted fact. But the real key to any true change is your people. More specifically – your people’s experiences, their attitudes, and their behaviors. The three are inextricably linked and directly impact one another.

We absolutely MUST embrace this single truth: the experience our employees have shapes their attitudes, which drives their behaviors at the office. These behaviors impact the work they produce, the experience they deliver to customers, the interactions they have with others, and ultimately the entire organization’s success or demise.

To put this in perspective, think about the experiences you’ve had throughout your career – no matter if you’re new to the workforce, or getting close to retirement. I’m sure you can think of one or more times where an experience tremendously influenced your attitude at work.

Say, for example, your boss yelled at you in front of several colleagues. In turn, you were angry at your manager for humiliating you, which impacted your attitude about your job and your manager. That led to you looking for a new job or maybe led you to doing less than stellar work because you were fed up with working like a dog for someone who didn’t appreciate your efforts. That ultimately impacted your colleagues and co-workers because you weren’t doing your part of the job and then that began to impact their performance. It can be a vicious circle.

Let’s look at it again with a more positive example. You worked extremely hard on launching a new product line for the business. It was very successful right out of the gate and you were recognized first by your manager’s manager. Then got a fantastic callout at the last all company meeting. You felt fantastic and proactively asked your manager for additional opportunities to lead more projects and also asked to mentor a new colleague to ensure they were set-up for success in their new role. For that new co-worker, they felt really good about their first few months at your company and continued to excel in their role. The experience -> attitude -> behavior cycle here is completely different than the last one we looked at, right? It’s fascinating to see how different experiences can lead to a variety of attitudes that ultimately impact behaviors.

With research from places like the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and the Journal of Consumer Psychology as background, we’ve taken a closer look at this phenomenon in a new paper called “Experiences -> Attitudes -> Behaviors: The Secret to Real Change.” Plus, we offer some pretty actionable suggestions of what you can do (starting now!) to impact employee experiences, attitudes and behaviors so you get the most out of your change initiatives. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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Managing Change
Developing Leaders and Managers
Developing Leaders and Managers