Meet Dan. Dan is a 40-year old man who has led a pretty sedentary lifestyle. He doesn’t make trips to the gym and he doesn’t have much dietary discipline. That’s led to his midsection expanding. One day, he discovers he’s about to become a father. His thoughts turn from joyous excitement to disappointment and fear. He’s always dreamed of being active with his child, playing in the yard and on the basketball court. But, how active could he be based on the non-active lifestyle he’s led up to this point?
Until today, he never focused on losing weight and getting into better shape. Why? Getting into better shape for himself was not a big enough motivator. It wasn’t until he discovered he would become a father that he realized he needed to change his behavior for the sake of his relationship with his child. The thought of not being active in his child’s life is a huge motivating factor for him. One big enough to change his diet and exercise habits. Life-changing events have a way of removing roadblocks to progress.
A seminal study by Martin Lindstrom, showed that almost all decisions are emotional ones. Dan decided to change his lifestyle based on emotion—an emotional response to the birth of his child, and his long-term health. Dan’s behavioral change took place because of his emotional motivating factor. But, can this be applied to changing behavior in the business world? Is it enough to sustain long-term change in the workplace?
Real change in business is not that different from the kind of behavioral change Dan underwent. It just takes a different process. Transforming an individual’s behavior—or the behavior of an organization—isn’t easy. It requires an articulated plan of ideas and strategy. Making meaningful change in your organization means winning the hearts and minds of your employees. How? By telling them a story that resonates with them. That story should connect deeply enough to move your audience into action. This can be accomplished in two ways:
Using a design thinking process and visual communication tools captures the right details to make that story resonate. Plan a communication effort to ensure that the right message is delivered at the right time, and delivered to the right person. This is also the change to engage key stakeholders and get them to buy-in to the transformation effort so they’re able to use their social influence within their organization. Transformative change that sustains itself is best captured through visual guides and communication.
It’s also important to create engaging and memorable communication campaigns that work across a variety of channels to support real change in an organization. Your clients need to get the information they want, packaged in a way that will help them change behaviors. Behavior transformations need a disciplined communications approach that includes an emotional or aspirational element. This element should connect and inspire the people in your organization. It should also be spelled out clearly.
There are three points that drive a successful communication approach, and helps transform behaviors for the long-term:
The human brain reacts differently to pictures than words. We process images faster and stay engaged longer. For instance, engagement is 58% higher on Instagram than on Facebook. When we see a visual representation of an idea, we are immediately more engaged because it requires less work for us to digest and it tangible. We also remember images better than text. In fact, one of the most common memorization techniques involves connecting words and phrases to images or physical spaces to improve retention.
Story-telling has been a key part of human communication for millennia. We all love a good story, especially one with a surprise or twist. We also love a story that is simple and direct enough for us to re-tell.
If you’ve ever studied marketing, world religions or parented a toddler, you know that to get through with messages—especially messages people don’t want to hear—you must be a broken record. A consistent, broken record. You must be everywhere, all the time reminding, prompting, and ingraining that message to get the right behavior. The trick with change management is to do it in such a way that you don’t make your jaded, heard -it-all-before employees sick of you. Many people turn to “fun” here, but that gets old too. Instead, be repetitive, but keep it fresh with new perspectives, insights, tidbits, and insider information that draws your audience in, instead of turning them off.
Change is hard. We all know and acknowledge that. But, change is a critical component of success in the workplace. Real change in business is difficult, because it means changing employee behavior. Changing behaviors isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be achieved using the proper communication tools and the proper motivation.
ThoughtForm helps clients reach internal audiences with innovative communication tools that are articulated clearly so they are easily digested. We know this is how real, transformational change begins.