Posts Tagged ‘behavioral change’

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kurtz_profile11

 

Going Native

Good change agents need to engage with the people they are trying to help.  They need to have empathy so they can understand the different attitudes that inevitably spring to life. They need to take time to observe and analyze the processes and jobs performed so they can relate those back to the attitudes and behaviors of the team.

This approach is not without risk. While it is important to understand the people you are working with, it is also important not to go native, to become so immersed in their world that your vision becomes blotted out by their objections and fears. Instead of you helping them change, they change you. You become their mouthpiece and then you are lost. I have seen  many a good analyst go native.

The classic analogy of course is Kurtz from “Heart of Darkness” (or “Apocalypse Now” if you are a movie buff). He went upstream and went mad, went native. His mission or vision became contorted and justified and horrific. For however intriguing the story of Kurtz is, it’s probably not a path we should follow for helping teams. So how do we avoid this?

Vision. There that concept  is again. What are you trying to achieve? Where are you trying to go?

It’s your compass and your map. You need to know your vision. Then you need to make sure it’s a shared vision.

In order for it to be shared, the team needs to be educated.

Here’s our vision. Here’s what it’s trying to do. Here’s how we’re trying to get there. Here’s how these tactics work.

Change is education.  Education needs to be ongoing through the process. Because it’s in doing that the learnings are cemented into the consciousness. And when they are cemented into the consciousness, then behaviors can change. This is your goal after all.

But there will be pitfalls and traps. You will see where they are coming from, you will see the logic they present for turning from the vision. You will be shown the trees and forget the forest.

Stay calm. Keep educating to the vision and the process along the way. It reinforces lessons for the team, but just as important it keeps these things in front of you as well. It’s your compass to let you know if you are getting lost, if you are going native. It will be more work and you may have to be more patient, but the effort is worthwhile. You don’t have to follow Kurtz into the Heart of Darkness.

Feed-Your-Head_000

 

So you want to be a change agent. That’s awesome.

I first ask myself what does that mean. It means different things to different people.

To me it means helping change culture and attitudes so that change and improvement can occur more naturally. Changing processes and rules and mechanics are just a subset of change.

Well, in order to attack change in this way you need the right frame of mind and the right skills. Essentially you need to train your brain. These will be different skills than typical process methodologies like Lean or Six sigma or whatever the latest trends are. So here are some thoughts on your brain.

Being in control of your brain

This skill probably applies more universally that the one that follow but perhaps the key. I have people tell me as a point of pride that they’re always thinking, their brains never turn off. They think about shit when driving, when lying in bed at night, when standing in line. It never stops. In fact they can’t stop it.

I’m sorry but that’s not good. Not for your health or your cognitive abilities. You need to be able to control when and what you think about.

You need to quiet your mind. Give it a chance to recover, reenergize itself. It’s like a muscle and if your work it, work it, work it, it will wear out. You need to meditate (or I guess the buzz word now is practice mindfulness).

Meditation is basically quieting your mind. It serves two key purposes here. It supplies the recovery mentioned about. But also in practicing to quiet your mind you gain discipline and control over your mind. Think of when you have struggled with a  problem and then gone to bed and woke up and have an ah-ha moment. Meditation is like controlling that process. It’s allowing your subconscious mind to do some heavy lifting and association. It’s really good at that. You should let it do that. In fact you should make it do that.

There are lots of good resources out there for meditation. Check them out. Be your brain.

Become a Psychologist

One of the keys to change is knowing it’s the people. Most of the books I’ve read on change and process improvement spend about one chapter on how to work with the “difficult” people, with the resistance. One chapter. Really. You’re going to help me master an understanding of the human psyche in one chapter. I highly doubt it. So you’re going to have to become a psychologist on your own.

You need to understand human behavior. What makes people do what they do? You need to look into motivational psychology, cognitive behavior therapy and even counseling techniques. It’s so helpful in reducing frustration over unwanted behaviors as well as helpful in creating counter-measures.

If you’re going to practice some psychology then you also need to learn how to read people. You need to learn about body language and facial expressions. You need to understand what they are saying and what they are not saying.

Again there are lots of resources out there. Be the counselor.

Become Empathetic

Understanding the people you are trying to help is obviously important. Empathy is the act of being able to place oneself in another’s shoes. Empathy is not to be confused with sympathetic feelings or condoning of behavior.

Too often we think that empathy is a thing you have or you don’t. And surely some people’s genetics may make them more empathetic. But empathy can be learned. It’s skill that takes practice but it can be acquired. Check these thoughts out: http://www.experis.us/Job-Seekers/Research-and-Insights/Career-Center/Strengthening-Your-Empathy-Ski.htm

A word of caution on this though: Gaining empathy skills can often be offset by reacting to our newfound insight with cynicism and judging. It’s probably easy to go there. Kind of like the Dark Side.

Feed Your Head  

Literally, feed your head. Just like taking care of other parts of your body, your brain needs nutrients. Make sure it gets them.

Oxygen. Your brain needs lots of it. This means being in shape and maintaining good cardio conditioning. Get the blood to the brain. Get up and move.

Brain food. Amino acids are what make your brain go. Especially Dimethylglycine (or DMG).  Look it up. Here’s a start: http://www.needs.com/product/NDNL-0605-01/l_DMG_Dimethylglycine

And of course you should eat foods good for the noggin. Again lots of sources on that. Here is one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/brain-food-superfoods_n_1895328.html

Badda Bing

Off you go. Take a step in the right direction.