Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF Mentor, tesh@shaw.ca

Understanding the concept of behaviour change and the probability that it will happen is absolutely essential to becoming a great manager. All personal development involves behaviour change – i.e. how can you improve your performance without changing your behaviour in some way? As CEO (or manager), when evaluating your personal development goals, or those of your subordinates, it is essential to determine the following:

  1. The amount of behaviour change that will be involved;
  2. Your (or your subordinates’) ability to achieve this behaviour change.

The amount of behaviour change required is determined simply by comparing the behaviour currently happening to the desired behaviour. The ability to achieve the behaviour change is determined by the following factors:

  1. The amount of behaviour change required. Obviously the higher the amount, the less likely that it will be achieved;
  2. The person’s desire (or motivation) to achieve the behaviour change. The greater the desire the more likely the change;
  3. The person’s innate abilities. For example, it is less likely that a person who is quick to anger will have the same probability of becoming an emotionally stable manager than one who is naturally “even-keeled.”

The factors that affect a person’s desire to change behaviour are:

  1. They are not aware that they need to change and the reasons why;
  2. They were aware that they need to change but do not know the reasons;
  3. They are aware of the desired behaviour change and the reasons but due to any combination of past experiences, assumptions, beliefs, amount of work necessary, they do not want to change.

Factors 1 and 2 are the easiest to deal with if awareness is the only reason for not changing behaviour. Factor 3 is obviously far more difficult and dramatically reduces the probability of behaviour change.

So what does this all mean?

My main point is that when assessing a candidate for a position – a current subordinate or your own personal development objectives – you must assess the behaviour change required under the circumstances and the probability of achieving that behaviour change. Not all behaviour changes are equal.  The next article will provide more guidance as to how to apply this knowledge to hiring new people, assessing current employees and yourself.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email me at tesh@shaw.ca ©