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Review behaviours that drive success for marginal gains

uploaded on 21 July 2020

Blog-Review behaviours that drive success for marginal gains

Review behaviours that drive success for marginal gains

As organisations implement their recovery plan, every gain counts. In a changed working environment, the values that drive success may hold true but the behaviours that underpin them will most likely have changed. Employers that take time to redefine behaviour that drives success will be able to monitor, recognise and encourage it.

Marginal gains are key to many organisation’s recovery plans. To remain competitive most employers will need to recover and grow, whether that’s through increased sales, productivity, or customer loyalty. The work environment in which recovery is taking place has changed. Many organisations will continue to operate a hybrid workforce with a mix of remote and office-based staff well into the New Year. 

Within a changing work environment, it makes sense for an employer to consider whether the behaviours they encourage from staff, through recognition and reward, do in fact drive success in the new normal. Those that don’t must be confident that the behaviours that drove success pre-lockdown are the right ones to drive success over the next two quarters. Given the weight riding on recovery, that seems like an imprudent gamble to take.

Yet, in a recent Edenred survey, over half (55%) of the organisations surveyed haven’t formalised an approach to employee recognition. A quarter (26%) will review the way recognition is given and train managers to effectively implement their approach. Only 7% say they will develop a new plan for the role of recognition during recovery. Given the importance of recovery to the future of most organisations, these figures may be of concern.

I say maybe, because in conversation with clients it becomes clear that when the topic is discussed employers can be talking about different things.

An interim not wholesale review of behaviour will drive marginal gains

To be clear, I’m not talking about a wholesale rethinking of company values that drive success. That takes a significant investment of time, resource and money. If done well, there shouldn’t be a need to revisit them too often. They should withstand and remain relevant to a changing environment. It’s the behaviours that underpin them that are likely to have adapted to changed environment.

In the normal course of BAU value and behaviour work can stagnate and needs to be reviewed every four to five years as a matter of course to check they are still relevant. Given the profound changes most employers have experienced in the working environment, now is a good time to review the relevance of those behaviours to drive success.

An interim review, not at value level but the behavioural level below will drive marginal gains. Most organisations want to correlate behaviour to a value. To have the evidence to say that if an employee embraces that value and demonstrates it in the work they do, it will deliver success for the organisation.

The value may hold true in a changed work environment, but the behaviours associated with each behaviour may need to change. For example, consider how the behaviours that showed adherence to a core value of team collaboration will have changed during lockdown while a significant percentage of the workforce worked remotely. Collaboration required a new set of behaviours adapted to a changed work environment. Mastery of video conference technology and how to conduct and participate in online meetings.  

Consider the case of working parents that remained productive despite having a double workload of childcare and supervising home learning. This they have done, relentlessly day in day out for four months. Which puts a new lens on going above and beyond. 

When conversations around “hard” quantifiable, output based metrics are taking place it can be challenging for HR to get the softer metrics, such as employee recognition, which ironically deliver the harder metrics, on the corporate agenda. Here are the gains to be had from doing so.

Organisational gains from a review of behaviours that underpin current values

Monitor whether current behaviour drives success – if it does, great, continue to encourage it through reward and recognition. If it doesn’t, you have data to start to work out what needs to change. You can conduct this type of review at a whole organisation level and individual functions or teams.

Powerful insight - review data provides the opportunity to communicate what behaviour you need to see, how it will impact recovery, define and work towards a common goal. The recent pandemic showed people will pull together for a shared goal. Recovery should be no different. Focus on the shared goal of having a sustainable business and help each employee understand how their behaviour contributes to that wider goal.

Powerful development tool - if you identify behaviour that is lacking, put learning and development in place to develop it. Draw on the Clive Woodward analogy of marginal gains in sport to position the development as strengths based to achieve a shared goal.

Check recognition not stagnating for your remote workforce - recognition has a natural lifecyle and staff need regular reminders to use it long after the initial bustle and enthusiasm of the launch event has died down. There’s an added danger that people forget to use recognition when working from home, out of sight, out of mind. Recognition must remain visible and actively practiced to encourage desired behaviour.

Give line managers right tools - ultimately, it’s their responsibility to reinforce recognition. An automated recognition system provides line managers and team members with prompts and nudges to give recognition to peers until it becomes an embedded practice.

A review of behaviours that drive success doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive work and yields powerful insight to secure marginal gains to get ahead of the competition.

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