Whether we are talking about one person or an entire nation, or even a herd of horses, the protocol for encouraging a desired behavior change is the same. Not surprisingly, these insights come from my lifelong passion for training animals but have served me well for achieving personal goals, working with co-workers and helping raise children.
Here are the components of productive, stress-free and efficient interactive behavior, whether it involves co-workers, family or pets.
- Established Authority – who’s in charge? Manager, Leader, Parent, Trainer or even your inner goal-setting mind – someone must step up to the plate or nothing will change.
- Clear Goals – whether communicated to the group or not, the leader must have a concrete vision of the desired outcome in mind.
- Clear Expectations – clearly articulated to one’s self and/or to the group, expectations are essential.
- Cooperation – absolutely non-negotiable, there is no room for exceptions here. A team is only as strong as its weakest player. Until everyone is on the same page, the project is failed.
- Clear and Consistent Consequences – what happens if someone does not meet expectations must be communicated in advance or (in the case of animals and small children) as it happens. And, this is extremely important, in a timely and consistent manner.
- Make it Easy to do the Right thing and Hard to do the Wrong thing – analyze the situation, the goal and the desired behavior. What is making it hard to do the right thing?
- Contingency Plans – in case the person, animal or thing doesn’t respond as expected to the consequences, make sure you have a plan B, C and D.
- Incrementalism – break the goal down into steps and manage to those steps. Rather than expect change to happen in one big leap, visualize those leaps as small steps towards the desired outcome. Among the Natural Horsemanship crowd, these small leaps are referred to as Baby Steps. Baby steps are the key to achieving small victories as opposed to big failures. End each encounter on a good note and success will happen.
- Measure the Results – decide how you will know if your venture is a success, measure those parameters and manage the outcome based on those results.
- Manage the Outcome – celebrate the successes and praise the participants – catch them doing it right. When you catch yourself/them doing it wrong, provide immediate feedback without disapproval and show them how to do it the right way.
Groom for success
One more thing. The pursuit of a shared vision depends on a mature, capable team. To support any agenda all participants, including yourself must be groomed for success. Equal measures of trust, respect, self confidence and self control are as essential as equal lengths on the four legs of a chair. If your team of one or more is lacking in one of these qualities you do not have a sound base to work with.
- Trust – Building trust is essential to success. And it’s simple. Do what you say you are going to do. No exceptions. Consistency helps. It’s hard for others to trust you if you are all over the place, warm one day and cold the next.
- Respect – This is the counterpart to trust. If you do what you say you are going to do, you will be respected. And vice versa.
- Self Confidence – Timidity does not inspire anyone. If you are hesitant, you spread uncertainty and the only way to move forward as a team is to stride forward with confidence.
- Self Control – “Leave your ego at the door” was the mantra of one workplace and it is essential to behave with maturity if you want to accomplish your goals.
Stay tuned for A Clear Vision – The Making of a Compost Pile – An example of how this system works