When people walk in to my social business workshops they usually are not sure why they are there. In fact, I have had many attendees comment that their peers are asking why they are wasting their time. They defend it, but are not totally sure themselves.
At the end of the training their minds are swimming with possibilities and many are blown away by what can be done. They are gung-ho when they leave the class. But that is where the separation occurs…
At the beginning of these trainings I often ask, “Are you willing to change the way you work?” The answer is almost always, “Yes, if it will help me be more productive.”
After everyone pretty much says the same thing I tell them that they are all lying (in a fun, humorous way of course). Why?
Changing our behavior is NOT based on fact. It is based on emotion and habit.
- We all know smoking is bad for our health. But it is habit that keeps some chained.
- We all know that, according to percentages, buying a ticket in a lottery we will most likely be money down the drain. Yet emotion makes it a HUGE money maker.
- We all know that when we buy a new car, the moment it leaves the lot we have lost thousands of dollars in value, yet emotion urges us to buy that shiny new car (or the new iPad, lately).
Decisions are based on emotion and/or defaulted to habit. Just because people sit through a training class and learn that they can be FAR more effective using social technologies does NOT mean that they will change their behavior when they get back to their desk. Why? The biggest reason is because they are used to working one way and to change takes a concerted effort and a willingness to work differently. Being comfortable becomes more important than failing.
One proof point: Someone goes out, starts a discussion using social technology and the answer is emailed to them. That means that the person saw the question using social technologies, but used email technology to answer. It would have been MUCH easier if the person who answered had answered in the discussion. All they had to do was
- hit REPLY
- type the answer
- click PUBLISH. Done.
Result? A quick reply and everyone can know the answer.
Instead, they reverted back to the way they are comfortable in communicating.
- They switched programs to their email,
- clicked the New Message icon,
- typed and found the name of the person to whom it should be addressed,
- typed a title
- typed the answer
- clicked the SEND button.
The result? A reply that had double the steps and only one person will read the answer.
This happens constantly by many people – they fall back into the emailing pattern. I see this almost exact situation happen every week (and I know there are more instances out there that I don’t know about).
To be more productive…
For us to be more productive, what are we fighting against? Technology? Not usually. Rather, it is ourselves. Most of the time we are willing to change – yet we don’t. We are so invested in the way we work that even if a better way comes along we are not usually willing to change.
Change happens one of two ways:
- We make a deliberate choice to change and match our actions with our thoughts. This happens on an individual level. I decide that emails and their branching effect is too cumbersome for even a small group email, so I substitute it with a social technologies and take care of the problem.
- We are forced to change. This the way to get many people to change. (But force should not be coupled with a negative connotation.) The switch to DTV a few years ago is an example. Not everyone will agree with forced change, however.
I would much rather everyone take Way #1 than be forced. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law had an emergency triple by-pass surgery that she was forced to do regular exercising. Let’s not wait until then.
It is kind of like running. I HATED running. What was the point? Unless I was playing basketball or Ultimate Frisbee, why run? I realized (facts) that I needed to get more exercise, it needed to be quick and cheap and running was one of the only options. So, I had to change my habits and set aside my emotions and do what was best. It took some time, but I actually enjoy running now. And, I am more healthy (and I weigh less, too!). It was the right decision, but I had to fight against emotion and habit.
Lesson to be learned?
If it is better, we need to deliberately try to change our habits and set aside the emotion until the emotion of the positive change outweighs the emotion of doing something the less effective way. This is a point I try to emphasize in my trainings.
My challenge to you
Don’t assume that because we have something better that people will adopt it. Focus on and work with their emotions and habit.