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7 things you need to do to change employee behaviour

In a values-driven company, employee behaviour is one of the most influential factors for the identity and culture of the company. This is most clearly seen when a company’s ambitions and its expectations of its employee are out of line with the reality. When a hierarchical company, for example, decides it wants a ‘start up mentality’, it’s asking lot of everyone, and especially managers, who now need to demonstrate the new desired behaviour. A structural change like this cannot be brought into effect overnight; it takes time, patience and effort.

Instilling a certain kind of behaviour begins with defining clear organisational values. Values form the essence of what employees have in common with one another. So if you’re thinking of defining and communicating company values, here are seven things to keep in mind:
  1. Be clear about the situation your company is in and the behaviour you want your employees to show. Make sure you are clear which behaviours must change, why and what this change will do for the organisation. Don’t define too many behaviours. Keep it clear and simple.
  2. Give your employees a say in choosing and defining your values. You will benefit from this later, when it comes to living up to the values, because your employees were part of the process.
  3. Ensure top management acknowledge the values. If they don’t live up to them, you can’t then expect that your employees will show the desired behaviour.
  4. Make clear what, where and how the values contribute to the organisation. When the goal is clear, people can see the impact of their behaviour. Translate your values into clear behaviours and relate them to your organisational goals.
  5. Make sure your values are recognisable, concrete and immediately applicable. Bland and abstract terminology will persuade no one.
  6. Embed the values in the organisation. The deeper and wider the values are embedded, the more likely it that employees will live by them. Embedding values begins with these five steps:
  • Communicate your company values clearly and often.
  • Continuously stimulating the conversation about behaviours, about the ‘why’ and ‘what’s in it for you?’. Share best practices, but also don’t be afraid to address the barriers you encounter.
  • Make sure your top and middle managers demonstrate the desired behaviour.
  • Address behaviour that does not represent your company’s values.
  • Make company values part of everyday work life by making them part of employees’ evaluation, feedback and coaching.
  1. Measure behaviour. Having introduced and implemented the values, the next step is to measure behaviour periodically. Do employees know what the values mean? Do they recognise themselves in the values? Do they feel they can work with? Do they understand what the values mean for their work? Are they willing to change their behaviour? In which ways do they already contribute to the company’s goals and ambitions? Do they believe management is showing the desired behaviour? Measuring behaviour is not about satisfaction, it’s about engagement. The more personal the results are, the better. This way, an individual approach can be created for each phase, such as, for example, by offering additional coaching and training, and by using the right communication tools and HR instruments.

Sascha Becker, Head of Strategy at PROOF | internal & employer branding

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