One of the biggest frustrations Change Agents and Project Teams confront is lack of adoption of the change by the Targets. There is no doubt that the “status quo” is a powerful force, even when a change is positive or entirely rational. Very often, the reason why the change isn’t embraced is because the appropriate reinforcements are not in place. For some reason, we expect people to behave differently, but we reinforce them for staying the same!
Last week, our blog focused on the fact that reinforcement is the golden key to implementation success. We explained that if you want people to change their behavior; you have to alter their reinforcements. It’s a pretty simple concept really and one we don’t think surprised many of you. But now we ask, how exactly do you go about doing that? Why does one reinforcement tactic work for one person, but not another?
There is a fundamental principle of human behavior that states, “People follow the reinforcement.” In other words, if you want people to change what they are doing, you have to alter the reinforcements. That's why Don Harrison, President and founder of IMA, tells our clients that "every time you see a behavior, there either is or was a reward for it." No behavior occurs in isolation of reinforcement.
If you are a Change Agent working on transformational change you are likely confronted daily with the reality of having too much to do with too few resources. You aren't alone. In our almost 30 years of change management consulting, we have never come across an organization with too many resources and with too little to do. That has never been more true than it is today.