Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just tell someone how to fix their work or their lives and they would just do it? Governments and leaders often seem to think this when they say that we need more education programs to help people stop smoking, to stop people drink driving, or to help us feel better about carbon taxes.
While it would be great if education solved all of humanity’s problems, it won’t. Change does not come merely through education – one must be emotionally motivated to committing to and following through on the attitudes, values and behaviours that will create lasting change. I know, as an educator and a coach, that telling people the right information only gets them part-way there. It’s why rehabilitation of criminal offenders is so difficult. You can tell them the information and the logic and show them the effects, etc. etc. etc. until you are blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean that they will change.
Here are two principles to consider in creating change:
1. Finding or creating the emotional and motivational triggers can be fundamental to helping yourself or someone else develop and grow. In my coaching and organisational development programs, I create experiences that will prompt this. But it’s not a matter of taking someone on to a plane, dropping them off at 10,000 feet with a parachute and then saying, “Look, you did that! Now go and stop hassling your colleagues at work.” As I have written before in some of my newsletters (there’s an archive on the www.lamplighter.com.au website), there needs to be analogic congruity between the learning and the activity/behaviour to be performed. You need to find a motivational trigger and learning experience that is closely aligned with the nature of the result you wish to create.
The same is true of teams and organisations as a whole: if there is not a motivational trigger – something that makes achieving the results more important and worthwhile than the effort required to achieve it – then people will find it difficult to change.
2. Having said that, sometimes it’s important, as Nike used to say, to “Just Do It!” The mere act of behaving in a certain way, changing behaviours and systems and then reinforcing that can sometimes induce the change in attitude and motivation as one sees the results and becomes used to the new way. You’ve seen it when people say, “Oh, I don’t feel motivated to do that”. And so it never gets done. But once they start, then the motivation starts to kick in. Or, hey, they never appear motivated but at least they’ve finished what they needed to get done.
Don’t allow motivation, environment or behaviour to become an obstacle. If it’s important, do it. But consider that motivation in the long-term will be necessary to sustain individual effort, especially once the “boss” has left the building.
I had a client who wanted all of his staff promoting the business more and “selling” more of their services. He kept telling them again and again and asking them what they had done. No results. I came in and enhanced their skills so that they knew what they were doing but, importantly, engaged them in determining WHY they should do it and how it would help them individually and organisationally - I canvassed a range of their own internal motivations – and how it would help the clients. Staff then put in much greater effort, changed the way they performed and got results, because they had a personal reason and they had built the capability to perform. The results finally started to happen.
If you are engaging in long-term change, motivation will become an important factor – whether it’s at the beginning, middle or end of the cycle. If you’re leading for change, you MUST consider what motivations, capabilities, attitudes and values are driving yourself and your people.