Post-Conventional Learning and Development Services
Team Building ° Conflict Resolution ° Cultural Intelligence ° Cooperative Workplace Enhancement ° Management and Leadership Training ° Collaborative, Internal Media “Social Marketing”
The workplace is a social group
No person is immune from the influence of the people and groups they belong to and encounter. As much as we would like to think that every thought we have is original, that every opinion we express is informed by facts alone, the truth is that we use others around us as a reference point for much of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. And this is a good thing! Because it’s human nature, this can very effectively be leveraged to influence group-members’ attitudes and behaviors.
Social motivation is arguably the single most powerful human-behavior motivator. When staff are given the agency and tools to regulate their interpersonal and normative behaviors as a distinct social group, employees do what the group expects. “Evolution does not reward selfish and mean people. Evolution favors cooperation and altruism over being ‘mean and selfish.’”
Discrimination, harassment, uncooperativeness – these are not the hallmarks of human survival, and social groups know it. However, when staff members don’t identify with the workplace social group, they abandon efforts to do so and rely more on the social groups outside the workplace that they do identify with - groups whose values and perspectives may not align with those of the organization. But when staff work together to reevaluate their perceived barriers to unification, they reinvest.
how do you change behaviors?
you can’t. but you can help staff decide to do it.
Behavior change is at the heart of nearly every goal people and organizations want to accomplish. That sounds ridiculously oversimplistic, but think about it. It’s the core of marketing and sales, making roads safer, improving health, reducing gun violence, elections and politics, raising children, promoting education, etc. So much can be accomplished by getting people to change certain behaviors, whether they are consumers, students, patients, drivers, parents - or your employees.
You can’t change behavior through force, fear, guilt, or even logic. People change their behaviors when they think it is in their best interest to do so. But it is possible to change people’s intentions and attitudes. When you do that, then behavior change is their idea.
attitudes can’t be taught.
but they can be influenced through self awareness, empathy, positive reinforcement, and social pressure.
How do you change attitudes that promote workplace harmony, improve morale, and minimize harassment? Attitudes are malleable, and informed by workplace-cultural norms, an ability to understand others’ experiences, and what individuals believe will result from adopting a new way of thinking. Your employees adjust those perceptions themselves. This process can be facilitated, but it can’t be taught.
When you’re doing it right, it looks like you’re doing nothing at all…
Facilitating is not training.
When you facilitate, you’re fortifying what people can already do. You train when people don’t have key information. Workplace discord, discrimination, and relational challenges are not information problems; they’re attitude problems. You can’t teach people how to feel, but you can facilitate a process that lets them examine their attitudes and make adjustments based on the attitudes others in the process. We underestimate the power that group-level settings have on our sense of belonging, connection and self. When you facilitate, you let the group establish and reinforce norms, and this is how people are most motivated to change - to fit in.