Changing Bad Habits

For a long time now I’ve been thinking about ‘Change Management’ – that is:

How do people change? And what approach can a H&S Consultancy take in order to influence change?

Of course, many of the things business advisers do in everyday life seeks to change their clients’ behaviour – either as individuals or as groups.

However, often business leaders try to effect change using a one-off  ‘Happy Clappy’ training day. Everyone attending has a jolly good moan, a nice chin-wag with colleagues, and then we all make some half-hearted promises to meet the new goals extracted out of us by an over-caffeinated trainer.

Returning to work, there’s a backlog of things to sort out so the training notes and good intentions go to the back of the desk, a week later up to the shelf…and then a month later slips to the final resting place behind the radiator.

Of course, helping someone change is much more challenging than a one-off inspirational session can provide. As anyone who has wanted to stop themselves habitually raiding the fridge or  annoying their partners can attest, making significant changes to the way we do things is a bigger process, which is why many trainers have branched into more of the traditional consultancy role by staying with the Client a little longer to help the change process through by offering individual and group coaching sessions.

I love alliteration and was once shown a ‘4 Rs’ of change, but being me, I needed to expand this to fit others that came to mind and needed expressing – hence they’re now the:

8 Rs of Change Management’

Here’s an explanation:

R1 – RELATE: In order for the whole thing to kick off, the persons who want or need to change need to know ‘Why’ – so they need to relate to the problem. From a ‘change-er’ perspective, the art of persuasion involves relating to the person too – no-one is going to be in the mood to alter what they’re used to doing if they can’t stand the person communicating the message – hopefully this comes naturally

R2 – REFRAME: In my world this is down to the Consultant to explain – how can things be done differently in order to overcome this ‘problem’?

R3- RESOURCE: This can mean a whole range of things that have the potential to stall a desired change before it has got off the ground e.g. any knowledge, equipment, support etc. needed

R4 – RESOLVE: So most things are in place to make the change – but is the ‘change-ee’ resolved to make the change: asking for a personal eyeball-to-eyeball commitment makes all the difference

R5 – REDUCE: In order to have an easy mental image of what we’re doing the process needs to be reduced to the key steps. Later on, this will make it possible to measure the success of the change.

R6 – REPEAT: Habits – good and bad, form after repetition so this is the hard gritty bit: keeping standards up and not allowing the old habits, or new bad habits to take over

R7 – REVIEW: Set a date right from the start so that everyone knows this isn’t going to drift – put it in the calendar

R8 – REWARD: Everyone likes to feel good about what they’ve achieved, so it’s the act of recognition that’s important – even if it’s just a word of thanks, or praise, or chocolate, or if you’re an investment banker something small that flatters your ego might be more appropriate  e.g. a Porche, a house or a small tropical island

And here’s the 8 Rs in a nice little diagram:

I feel another ‘R’ coming on…’Re-double‘ efforts could be an alternative R8 if things haven’t gone well – but we won’t focus on that and bring everyone down.

All of the above will be pretty much ‘bread and butter’ to the practices of many consultants, although as I’ve written before, making a complicated thing clear and simple is fine – the acid test is putting it to good use.

The key things I need to work on is incorporating the ‘Resolve’ stage into my practices, and remembering to set the ‘Review’ (sometimes forgotten in the hurry to get onto another solution): How about you?