Behavioral Change: the Beginning of Sustainability

The words Built to Last in silver on a metal sign

At the completion of a project when behavioral change is driven within an organization, almost everyone has a sigh of relief thinking that the hard work is done. However, the fact is it has just begun. Now comes sustainment of the changes. Here lies the real challenge because the people side of what drives the work environment constantly shifts priorities, processes, and faces.

In addition to the myth that everyone wants to keep behavioral changes going, other common myths about sustaining behavior change are that they can be:

  • Mandated
  • Automated
  • Driven by a better tool, form or procedure
  • Delegated
  • A part-time focus
  • Someone else’s responsibility

There are some simple truths about sustaining change in an organization that will have a positive and long-lasting impact.

Sustainability occurs:

  • When leaders are committed to the process through their actions
  • When the leader’s mindset is transformed, and they want more from the process and know there is more to be gained from it than currently demonstrated
  • As a result of leaders keeping it fresh
  • On a personal level with leaders in every interaction and engagement
  • When supervisors challenge managers, peers, and the entire company to stay focused on the behaviors that resulted in the desired change

Sustainability is hard work. It is about managing people, not the process. To realize this kind of sustainment, it takes everyone having the correct mindset of continuous improvement. Do your leaders have the following mindset?

  • We can get more process improvements, behavioral changes, and remove more performance barriers with this process
  • We can get more cost reductions by removal of waste
  • Our people can find more barriers and resolve them with leadership support and engagement
  • Every chance I get, I will tell a success story, large or small that will help my employees relate better to the process
  • Each positive action taken by me creates more enthusiasm in my employees which is highlighted by their behaviors
  • A Management Operating System (MOS) with the associated process improvement mindset is a critical enabler to achieve our current and future goals

Your commitment level to sustainability is not gauged by what you say, but by your actions as seen in the eyes of those you lead. It is imperative that you engage your employees and commit to time management. The first action they are looking to see from you is the consistency of your commitment as demonstrated by your business rhythms and rigors. Finally, for lasting sustainability, leaders must always re-enlist a similar commitment from employees.