What Happens When You Get What You Ask For?

August 04 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis

I was consulting with top leaders of an organization who were struggling to get their workers to make suggestions for improving safety. They said since it was not happening, they decided to communicate more often and make sure they kept awareness at a high level. I asked them what would happen if a worker DOES make a suggestion and got blank stares.

They were talking about what to do BEFORE the desired behavior and I was talking about what happens AFTER. The things that happen before can trigger or prompt workers to do something. What happens after tells the worker if it was a good thing to do or not. What Happens When You Get What You Ask For? Behavioral scientists call the "after" part "consequences," and their research suggests that consequences are much stronger influences on behavior than most leaders give them credit for.

All organizational leaders should ask, "What do I want people to do, how do I communicate it effectively, what happens if they do it, and what happens if they don't?" Leaving off the "after" part is a common reason why many initiatives fail.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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