Here’s why some people can’t get others to change – they focus more on outcome rather than the behaviors needed to get to that outcome.
I remember the first time I decided to diet. It was Christmas break, and I was coming home from my first semester at college. Unlike many who find the “Freshman 10 lbs,” I set a record with the “Freshman 23.5 lbs”. I found those pounds in just a couple of months – how amazing am I?
Unfortunately, my sister was getting married in late January. I had to fit into a bridesmaid dress that had been tried on before the mounds of starches I found in the “all you can eat” cafeteria at my school. I pasted my weight goal on the mirror, and a picture of myself before I left for school. After a week, I had found two more pounds lounging lazily at my house. They were more than willing to jump on my hips through late night cinnamon toast and home-made hot chocolate.
I finally went to my doctor, who set up a low-calorie diet. He told me exactly the calories I could have each day, and told me that if I stuck to those calories (around 350 per meal) and exercised for thirty minutes a day the weight would come off. I now had daily actions that I could follow, and the weight came off. It found me again once I went back to college, but I looked hot for the wedding.
“It turns out that all influence geniuses focus on behaviors. They’re inflexible on this point. They don’t develop an influence strategy until they’ve carefully identified the specific behaviors they want to change. They start by asking: In order to improve our existing situation, what must people actually do?”
I’ve spent twenty years helping organizations and individuals change, and the one element I see missing again and again are the specific actions that will get people to the exciting new goals that are being set.
I worked with one sales manager who had could not get performance lift from her team, even though she had repeatedly delivered this message:
1. This sales team is behind on goal, and needs to sell more to new prospects, and we need to start doing it now. We need to hit this monthly goal.
I talked to her salespeople, and realized they understood the message, but they were going back to their desks thinking “exactly how am I supposed to do this?”
I worked with her on delivering a message more like the second one shown below, and there was immediate sales lift:
2. Each sales person on our team needs to make three more prospecting calls per day, and close at least two per week to hit goal. We’ll discuss these calls at the end of each day to share our successes or any need for help on the next calls.
This message provided specific actions – the right actions – that needed to be taken. So, if you’re trying to get yourself or a team or a company to change and are having no success, make sure you haven’t just delivered a big goal. Ask yourself: Have I delivered the specific behaviors or actions that will get people to that goal?
Some of you might remember the movie Glengarry Glenn Ross. The scene with Alec Baldwin as the new, demeaning and demanding sales manager perfectly illustrates the manager that delivers a lot of goal, but not one behavior to help his team get there.
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