Changing Behaviors

Recently on one of the network discussion boards I subscribe to someone asked,

“How do you facilitate ethical and moral behavior as a core value of your business?”


Questions about changing behaviors pop up a lot in Relationship Management and Project Management; not so much about ethical or moral behaviors, but often related to attitudes towards work and collaboration and the organizational culture as a whole.

I haven’t found the answer to this question, but I have some experience and some success. What follows is my response, which I hope will help you if faced with a similar situation.

Changing behaviors (or a culture) is hard. For someone to change their behavior, there generally has to be something in it for them…. true altruism is hard to find.

First you need to codify the behaviors you want encourage in a mission statement, a list of core values or even those inspirational posters you see in some offices.

Next, as was previously said, lead by example. Demonstrate the behaviors you want to encourage and make your actions visible for all to see. You must walk the talk if you want people to follow. When actions don’t match words, the message isn’t taken seriously.

Finally, figure out a way to reward good behavior and punish unwanted behaviors. Again, rewards should be showcased, but I prefer to deal with punishments privately.

Hope that helps to get you started.

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