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• In her performance review, Sally says she wants to get promoted into management. You think she has potential. But she’s often late to work, and you tell her she’ll have to start getting in at 9 a.m. sharp to be considered for a promotion. Now, a month later, she’s still coming in late.
• In the past, executive summary reports were due on the fifth of every month. Now they’re due on the second. Sue misses the new deadline every time and your boss is losing patience. “I need those numbers to run this business,” he says. “Get Sue to deliver them on time!”
• You want your sales reps to start selling to a new market. They promise do to so – but then they go right back to working their existing accounts.
If these were your employees, how would you get them to change their behavior?
Would you try a carrot? Would you, for example, praise Sally if she goes an entire month without being late? Would you offer big bonuses for salespeople who make inroads into the new market?
Or would you use a stick? Would you read Sue the riot act every time her report is late?
Well, carrots and sticks might work. But there’s a good chance that they won’t.
In this Quick Take, you will learn:
• Why carrots and sticks are often the wrong approach to changing behavior.
• An often-overlooked driver of change that can be more effective than rewards or punishment.
• And two questions you should always ask before you try to change anyone’s behavior.
When people think about changing behavior – their own or someone else’s -- they often start by focusing on motivation. The right combination of rewards, threats and punishments, they believe, will increase motivation and achieve the desired behavior. If Sally wants that promotion badly enough, she’ll get herself into work on time. If you make Sue’s life miserable, she’ll stop procrastinating. And with the right bonus plan, those reps will start working that new market.
But motivation is one of only two drivers of behavior change. And it’s often the less effective of the two. To see why, let’s look at the work of professor B.J. Fogg.
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