28.06.2022 Human Resources Tech Trends

Let’s talk about changing behaviours in organisations

Change management

Any organisational transformation, whether it is implementing systems, redesigning processes, driving cultural change, or restructuring organisations, is ultimately about changing behaviour. But changing behaviour is really hard.

Why classic change management practices simply don’t work

Traditional change approaches rely on training and communications which are not always effective at sustainably changing behaviour. To change behaviour, we need to understand, start thinking and talking about behaviour, we need to put behaviour first.

Behaviour First Change is all about closing the gap between intention and action, which requires understanding: why we behave the way we do, what influences and drives our behaviour, and how to change behaviour.

Neuroscience at the service of business…

On one hand, to understand why behaviours can be so hard to change and why we behave in the way we do, neuroscience concepts are used. Neuroscience theories explain that when a behaviour and a chemical response in our brain (either happy chemical reaction or stress related reaction) are repeated over time, this connection becomes stronger, building our go-to way of functioning. Unless we deliberately build new circuits, these patterns become our go-to ways of functioning, thinking, and behaving. These are called our superhighways and are the basis of what we know about rewards and pain, so paving new paths can be challenging1. But with persistence and consistency, you can build new pathways and patterns.

On another hand, to understand the drivers of our behaviour, psychological concepts such as social norms, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and habits are used. Based on the understanding of them from the organisational environment, we design interventions that will make it easier for teams to adopt the desired behaviour.

Those theories explain how our mental models influence our behaviours and how used our brain is to take mental shortcuts every day to make decisions. When we spend so much time using mental shortcuts to think fast, our decisions and behaviours are easily influenced by the environment – this is what we call being “nudged”.

…Delivered through a simple 3-phase approach

All the previously explained concepts are put into practice in Behaviour First Change, Deloitte’s change solution for organizations. We bring a proven and practical toolkit, specialist practitioners, and global network of academic relationships which enable us to practically apply the best of behavioural science to drive business outcomes more effectively. In order to effectively change organisational behaviour, we are coming with a practical 3-phase approach to guide our client’s employees increase efficiency and adapt to all organisational changes.

The three phases start by identifying and prioritizing behaviours that need to change to realize the business benefits of the transformation, and this is done through workshops. Through interviews and high-level discussions, the “understand” phase is followed to deep dive into the drivers and barriers of behaviours within the organisation. Finally, we enter the change phase, in where the FIRST framework (i.e., Fundamentals, Incentives, Relationships, Stories, and Tools) is applied to design and implement targeted interventions to shift behaviour at an organisational level.

Some Behaviour First success stories:

1. Sustaining a common culture of performance 

In one of our stories when using BFC, we came across a client that had grown very rapidly, i.e., increased its staff number, and expanded geographically across multiple programmes. They were keen that their organisational culture and performance standards would be consistently understood and applied through the expansion. Therefore, the client asked Deloitte to support them in this change of culture.

After conducting a survey and several workshops to understand the current organisational culture and the barrier and enablers to behavioural change, we identified a set of behaviours that led leadership attention to refocus on tangible behavioural change initiatives as a powerful driver of culture.

Our recommended interventions encompassed a broad spectrum from subtle nudges to substantial programmes – initial feedback suggested slow but steady progress as the major interventions were rolled out.

Even though a change in the organisational culture is perhaps one of the hardest topics to change in an organisation, we also stepped upon a client that requested our help after multiples classical change management initiatives had not been successful.

2. Driving technology adoption

The client was implementing an ERP system in its mining and steel businesses. The first release to two divisions was successful from a technology perspective, but the teams were still responding to adoption issues three months after go-live. The primary driver of the issue was teams not making required changes to their behaviours and ways of working. Therefore, Deloitte was called to support on the successful implementation of the technology. After conducting interviews and identifying barriers and enablers of desired behaviours, a series of immediate interventions were recommended to remediate the adoption issues for the client.

This was the pilot Behaviour First project, initiated as a rescue after traditional change approaches had failed to deliver effective system adoption. Client feedback was hugely positive, and the insights provided were described as “groundbreaking”.

So far, clients’ feedbacks have been positive – interventions and collateral seen as very practical and easy to implement. The methodology has been used throughout the Deloitte globe to create an impact that matters.

This article was written by Marie-Cécile Legrand, Lilia Amico, and Michelle Petrini.

If you would like to learn more about the subject, please do not hesitate to contact François Bade, Partner, Banking and Human Capital, or Pascal Martino, Partner, Banking and Human Capital Leader at Deloitte, or visit the website.

Source: Communicated by Deloitte Luxembourg