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Driving Behaviour Change in Performance Improvement

Behaviour is an integral part of performance – the two terms are often used interchangeably – so it’s no surprise that behaviour is a critical component of performance management and that behaviour change is the most challenging part of performance improvement implementation.  

Because behaviour change is one of the pillars of sustainability and no performance improvement initiative can succeed without it, the challenges must be overcome in order for an organization to effectively implement change.


Behaviour management is a daunting task on its own.  Adding change to the mix can create complex challenges for anyone responsible for managing another employee’s performance, and these challenges can easily thwart the progress of change implementation.

So, how can this be tackled?  As with any problem, the first step must be to determine the root causes.  While it’s easy to blame employees for simply not wanting to change their behaviours, organizations often forget there are two components to successful behaviour change; one is the front-line employees, but the other equally important one is the managers. 

Managers need to examine their own shortcomings when it comes to driving employee performance.   They have to be able to step back and scrutinize whether or not they have effectively:

  • Communicated with their team about the change;
  • Managed their team’s cognitive biases against the change;
  • Understood the differences in perception on the need for the change;
  • Taken into account a poor corporate culture that doesn’t facilitate acceptance of the change;
  • Considered the inevitable range of emotions that always goes along with change.

Some combination of these, along with various difficulties unique to each workplace, can create a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to managing employee behaviour around change implementation.

Steps to Changing Behaviour

While the list of obstacles to managing behaviour change may seem daunting, a disciplined and structured approach can mitigate many of these and create a path to successful change.

The ultimate goal of behaviour change is to have employees internalize and take ownership of the desired behaviour, and what’s required to drive this is the good habits of active management – setting clear expectations, developing capabilities, and putting proper motivation in place.

There are several steps a good active manager can take to successfully drive behaviour change in their teams:

  1. Communicate.  In order to exercise appropriate behaviour, employees need to understand what’s expected of them. Expectations need to be clear and realistic, but most importantly, they need to be known.
  2. Measure and review.  Once targets have been communicated, behaviours need to be quantified as much as possible and then tracked and reported.   Knowing whether expectations are being met allows for early and easy course correction. 
  3. Grow Capabilities and Empower Success.  Skills need to be evaluated on a skills matrix and adjusted to meet targets.  If an employee lacks the needed skill to successfully participate in an implemented change, training should take place right away.
  4. Set motivators.  There needs to be a clear understanding of rewards for desired behaviour and consequences of deficient ones.   
  5. Follow Up.  By following up on performance and providing feedback where it’s needed, the loop is closed on continuous communication and the motivators are maintained.

At Trindent Consulting we help clients successfully attain behaviour change on every engagement.  Visit for more information on how we Make It Happen ™.