Have you ever found yourself frustrated with trying to get your techs to implement a new process or hit performance targets? Have you thought to yourself, “I don’t know what else to do; I’ve trained them, I’ve told them, I’ve asked them, and I’ve even begged them, but they still won’t do it?” If so, then keep reading, because we’re going to discuss why you and thousands of other managers are struggling with this frustration and lack of effectiveness.
To understand why you find yourself in this situation, let’s first acknowledge what you’re ultimately trying to get — results. Whether it’s more sales, more leads, or adherence to a process, it all boils down to results. But what creates results? On a foundational level, results are nothing more than a summation of a set of behaviors executed over time. To illustrate: If I want the result of being fit and looking good, I’ve got to change my eating and fitness behaviors. I’ve got to start eating fewer calories than I burn, follow some sort of exercise regimen, and stick to it consistently over time. In considering this illustration, you can deduce its application, that changes in behavior create changes in results and predictably so. Now you might say this is common sense; however, your troubles aren’t due to a lack of this knowledge, but result from a misapplication of this knowledge. Said differently, it’s the way you’re trying to modify the behavior of others that lacks effectiveness and causes frustration on your part.
You must realize that behaviors are influenced by two things, antecedents and consequences. Antecedents are the things we do in an attempt to trigger a behavior and some examples of this are listed in the statement of frustration at the beginning of this article: training, asking, telling, and begging. The root of your frustration lies in the fact that statistically antecedents are only effective in modifying behaviors 20 percent of the time. Consequences, on the other hand, are what we do in response to a given behavior and are effective 80 percent of the time in influencing behavior. But don’t immediately go to the dark side and become the new dungeon master of your company because consequences can also be positive and often should be.
Consequences can be in the form of spiffs, contests, and incentives that drive and reinforce the right behaviors. They can also take the form of weekly coaching sessions where you meet individually with your people to discuss their performance. Sometimes just the simple fact of knowing that someone is watching and knowing you have to take ownership for your actions is enough to produce new behaviors. At times consequences take the form of progressive discipline plans to create an environment where the pain of not changing becomes worse than the pain of the change itself.
Whatever the consequence, it should be noted that they don’t take the place of antecedents, but work in tandem with them to ensure maximum results. So the next time you find yourself frustrated, lacking results, and wondering what more you can do, ask yourself, “In addition to the training and expectations I’ve set, what consequences have I put in place to motivate a change in behavior?”