Steps to achieve behavioural change

To ensure we’re continuously learning and operating at our best at work, most of us have a longstanding habit or two that we could benefit from changing.

Here are five steps to be aware of, and action, in order to achieve change.

  1. Recognise what behaviour requires change

    The workplace is busier than ever before, with new regulations and communication methods changing the way we work. It can therefore be difficult to find the time to be mindful of behaviours that need adapting to get the best from yourself and your team.

    Gaining awareness of how you operate, how you are perceived, and how people think you could improve is a crucial first step towards change. Ask your manager, colleagues, team members and customers if there is anything they would change about you if they could. Consider doing a formal 360 degree feedback if you would prefer. Either way identify the behaviour that you would like to change.

  2. Be open to the feedback of others

    Hearing how your behaviour or style affects others can be confronting and uncomfortable, and as human beings our initial reaction is to fight back emotionally against critiques. But before you see red, take some time to really think about the comments given and how you behave in certain situations.

    Once you’ve let those ideas simmer and begin to accept them, you’ll soon start to be motivated to make a start on change.

  3. Take a deeper dive into the issues

    Delving into the specifics of your behaviour and reactions is important to get a deeper understanding of just where you can make changes. There may be particular actions or traits where your team members feel let down, but you won’t know what they are unless you illicit feedback. Ask people where exactly – and how – they would like you to change.

    Once you are armed with that knowledge, you can work on steps to change your approach.

  4. Set goals for change

    We can’t fully change our behaviour if we do not devise an alternative. For example, if your initial reaction when someone makes a mistake is to berate them in anger, you need to find a different way to address the issue. You may even want to try out a number of options to see what works best for you and your team.

    In this example, you could diffuse your anger by asking them to take a short break and reconvene with you in 30 minutes to give you a chance to think about next steps in your behaviour.

  5. Successful behavioural change

    Once you’ve accomplished these initial steps, you’re well on your way to achieving change. It may be a difficult transition at first. But remember habits form over time, and habits thrive on practice, so don’t become complacent just yet.

    Permanent, long-term change, is something you will need to focus on, repeat and assess with each situation that arises. And remember, relapses are normal, so even if you feel you've fallen into old habits, learn from the experience, understand why. Then get back on the horse, follow these steps and keep going.

    The person on top of the mountain didn’t fall there!

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services