How Not to Change Behavior

October 16 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

I recently visited a client location and noticed new values and desired behaviors posted throughout the site. During a meeting with the supervision team, I inquired about them. Most were unaware of what they were, what they meant, or what led to them. One responded, "Typically, we only hear about these changes in expectations when we violate them."

Toddler wearing a tie and glasses.

When new behavioral expectations are not communicated, explaining what they mean, how they tie to objectives, where they came from, who created them, why they matter, how to change, and why this change benefits them, nor provided new skills to facilitate the change in behaviors or, where possible, play a role in creating them and no accountability system with a balance of consequences, how can we expect they will do anything other than collect dust on the walls?

Front-line leaders are in the most challenging position in many organizations and are vital to shaping performance and culture. And they are often the most undertrained, under-resourced, and underutilized group. Why not set them up for success?

"Behavior is the end result of a prevailing story in one's mind: change the story and the behavior will change." — Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana

"To change any behavior we have to slow down and act intentionally rather than from habit and impulse." — Henna Inam

"An effective follow-up system is the key to an effective coaching process, which will lead to significant behavioral changes. True success is in the follow-up." — Farshad Asl

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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