Managing Employee Behavioral Change

Anyone responsible for leading and managing other employees can attest that requiring or even influencing behavioral change in others working for you is highly problematic. Whether in the form of a casual suggestion intended to motivate (softly delivered), structured coaching (with or without an invitation), formal group training or something more threatening with consequences, changing how someone behaves is quite challenging.

People can and do change, but first they must understand and emotionally accept the need to change. This is possible through top-down feedback of the issues, and open communication through collaborative coaching. Feedback is about awareness and immediacy; coaching is about action and ongoing change. When combined, there can be achievement.

When attempting to impart change, be specific. If the goal is about improving skills – possibly communication skills, closing more sales, or whatever is the performance gap – feedback should build the case (why) for change and coaching should set the stage for how that can be realized and what the expected outcomes would be.

Then, there must be buy-in by the employee and sufficient time to adjust what are often entrenched behaviors. If there are many gaps, just focus on ONE issue. Once there is demonstrable progress, you can begin to deal with the next priority.

Support change by identifying and removing roadblocks that contribute to the non-performance. Set up the opportunity for change to happen.

Remember the big picture – for the company and for the individual. What else is going on and may also need to change? Be sure that poorly articulated company processes or the actions of others are not part of the problem.

Change can happen. Small steps can conquer a long journey.