Ok. So I don’t think anyone would argue against the fact that there IS definitely a place for Behavior Analysis in the workplace because, let’s face it, tech is not the only solution to issues facing business today. A mentor of mine used to say, “Someone still needs to push the button”. People and their behavior are still involved in everything that occurs in a workplace. There is still something (or a whole slew of things) people need to DO in order for a company to achieve success.
“Behavior is the activity of living organisms” (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007) …soooo button pushing, on-time meeting attending, widget-making, deadline and/or target meeting all totally count…
The thing is, most leaders in organizations, just don’t get it. They’ve been plucked from the ranks of people who got an education in X and are now asked to understand how to lead. They need to understand how to motivate their people in order to be successful in this kind of role but most of the time it just comes out like the following….(click below!)
This is a woman who really doesn’t get it. She believes that all people are motivated by some unknown internal drive telling us that we should do things because they are “the right thing to do”.
That is a lovely pipe dream. Lovely. But a pipe dream.
The world simply doesn’t work that way.
I do wish I could say that everything I do is motivated by my desire to do the right thing, but alas, I do enjoy wine…and cheese…and television…and the ability to pay my bills.
Luckily, for today, the Assistant Warden was saved by the fact that she (likely) guessed right! People like this leave the behavior of their people up to chance. They GUESS at what might be motivating and then keep their fingers crossed that they are right. The thing is…that’s really bad for business. OH! AND it’s bad for people. ALL people. You can see the emotional roller-coaster occurring right on Taystee’s face and ya know, what? We’ve all been there when it comes to work. Yes, she is playing an inmate in this clip but the scene plays out for all of us, just like this, all the time. We work hard, really hard, because there is something we are after. If our bosses don’t know how to tap into that (and meanwhile not make us feel like our work is under-valued, “just what we are supposed to do because we hired you”, or just plain stupid) we will all be in for the same roller-coaster ride. And on it, we will all occasionally be looking over the edge thinking, “NOW might be a good time to jump off this thing”. Guessing will not work. Assuming that we are all just going to “do it…because” will not work. That is where Behavior Analysis comes in.
Now, let’s not confuse this with your run-of-the-mill management consulting or off-the-shelf management strategy.
Yes. You can hire me as a management consultant (and I highly suggest that you do! :D ) but as comparisons go, Behavior Analysis is not what you know about management consulting.
In May, Julian Birkinshaw published this interesting tid-bit in The Harvard Business Review:
“Nine-tenths of the approximately 100 branded management ideas I’ve studied lost their popularity within a decade or so.”
Therein lies the difference. Behavior Analysis is not a fad. It’s a science. It will not wear out or go cold or stale (if you understand it and use it correctly). It gives leaders the tools to battle their own demons. If you hire a Behavior Analyst on a contract basis, when we leave, you’ve learned empirically tested and validated behaviors of your own to engage in to create the change you desire for yourself.
It works better and is longer lasting because Behavior Analysis works by allowing you to understand the environment in which behavior lives so that you can see what affects it and how. When leaders can understand this, they can understand what motivates people. When they can understand what motivates people… you get the drill. It’s big. We know.
When I first thought about what I do in those terms, it seemed like I had uncovered a secret of Scully and Mulder proportions… but then again…let’s not confuse Behavior Analysis with the Loch Ness Monster either. Unlike many “performance management” strategies, it DOES exist and years of study have shown it to work.
As with any science, there are nuances and intricacies best left for an “expert” to handle, but the basic principles are actually ones that can be quite easy to understand and learn to implement. Leaders can and have done it before, this is not a new space for this field. I’m just waiting for it to be common practice for organizations to come to Behavior Analysis when they find themselves lacking in the performance management department.
And is there a place for Behavior Analysts to play permanent roles within organizations?
1) Behavior will always exist. No organization will ever run dry of it.
2) Organizations are constantly shifting. As organizations evolve so will their need to engage with their people appropriately.
What if you had someone on payroll who was paid to do the thinking and planning for those moments? To do the behind-the-scenes work to get you and your people prepared to execute what comes next in the best possible way to achieve your desired outcome while keeping your people engaged. To have an office that you could walk into and work out a scientifically-proven-to-work plan for dealing with a person, team or entire department who could use some extra support. To be a thought-partner when you have a performance-based question, initiative or issue.
It’s actually exciting for me to think about. And I’ll hold my breath while modern business culture gets-it-together to get excited with me.
Visit my contact page and shoot me a note for more information about what Behavior Analysis might have to offer your organization.