Managing Change Initiatives

Companies can have the best strategies and processes in place but without the right behaviours, they will struggle to make any change initiative “stick”. Managers often complain about having to struggle with change programs that they are trying to implement even at a department level. Can something be done about this and can behavioural science help us to manage and implement change effectively ?

Pinpoint exactly what Results and Behaviours you want.

Most of us are trained well to manage results but we don’t give that much thought to managing behaviours. Focusing on result is a good starting point, the next question is what behaviours need to take place in order for me to achieve these results? We call them Behaviour Pinpoints. Behaviour simply put is what we say or do.

What are the 3-5 critical behaviours that need to take place consistently in order to get the result you want?

Look for models within your organisation or department – your top performers will be doing these behaviours all of the time, your mid level performers will be doing them some of the time? By pinpointing the high impact behavior that matter, you can help your team focus on what’s key to the result you are aiming at.


Work out some way to measure the needed behaviours – for example, frequency, or impact find a measure that will track the behaviours you want. Make this measure known, remember the saying “what you measure gets done”.


How will the performer know how she/he is doing? Finding a way to make data available on the progress the performers are making is very useful in strengthening behaviours.

Just a simple graph can help the team notice where they are at and where they need to go and get a feel of how they are doing.


Find ways to strengthen the desirable behaviours – this is called reinforcement. Besides money there are many types of reinforcement; social reinforcement works a treat – just marking out whats working and asking someone how they did that is reinforcing but if you do it in a group, others have the opportunity to learn from each other. When this happens, you build a learning culture. Reinforcement can also fast track a behaviour and help the performers get to habit strength quickly.


Taking the time to review progress and evaluate against the intended goal. This provides room corrective action if one is off track and to strengthen one’s position if on track. Just like a flight path, it requires adjustment.


Having a core team or champions can help accelerate the change process; having many eyes on the ground is way better than having the manager implement change on his own. Champions serve as the early adopters and can influence others to try out a new behaviour or action. Find ways to create a “tipping point”.

Progress meetings and coaching the work

It is critical for leaders to be actively involved in the change process. Short and quick progress meetings help the team keep their focus and more helpful than long drawn out meetings that take too much time and take people away from their task on hand.

~ Lita