The backward way of addressing a performance problem
Think about it: a resource is what people use. If people don’t use something, then it’s not a resource. It’s a constraint for them. When the goal or problem changes, a resource can become a constraint and vice versa. People do not necessarily set a goal and then look for the resources to achieve it. No, people adjust their goals to the available resources as much as they try to adjust resources to meet a goal. Sorry to make it a bit complex, but let me add this: the most effective way to change people’s goals is not to intervene directly on the goals, but rather to change the resources available to the people. They will then adjust their goals to the new resources and re-engage.
Not focussing on what people do, but on what they don’t do
Too often, we focus on what people fail to do. Our sales team does not do cross-selling. Our managers are not making decisions. Our engineers are not innovating. However, people do not spend their days not cross-selling, not deciding, not innovating. They often do things – for certain reasons.
Therefore, it may be good to sometimes not focus on what people do, but on what they don’t do. Managers often check what people do and if these people don’t do what they are supposed to do, then the hard approach dictates that we should add new incentives, new processes, new structures. In doing so, we complicate matters without tackling the root causes. When you think about it, to focus on what people fail to do as opposed to what they actually do is a fundamentally backward way of addressing a performance problem.
To change behaviour, it is more effective to change the context instead of only trying to change people’s mind-sets. When the context changes, behaviours adjust, and when people behave the way they do, their values, feelings, and mentalities evolve accordingly.
Keep in mind: every behaviour shows traces of the efforts people make to sidestep or minimize their constraints. So instead of jumping directly from performance issues to the creation of new structures, processes, and systems, you should seek to understand the root causes of performance at the level of the behaviours and the factors that shape those behaviours.
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