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Dear Workforce How Do We Drive Behavior Change Among Our Veterans?

We have a segment of veteran employees who are used to doing things a certain way. This poses a conflict with newer employees, especially as we try to build a more nimble and service-focused organization. How can we change the behaviors of our seasoned workers without alienating them? We have tried using them as mentors, but that has resulted in teaching newcomers to do things “the way they have always been done.”
April 13, 2010
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Related Topics: Change Management, Corporate Culture, Dear Workforce
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Dear Intimidated:
"How can we change the behaviors of our seasoned workers … ?" We could substitute any other group in the sentence and it would still be a challenging question.
• How can we change Gen X'ers? At work, they can be fiercely independent, like to be in control and want immediate feedback.
• How can we change "Generation Nexters"? They are the youngest workers, but they represent the most technologically adept. They are fast learners and tend to be impatient.
It is true that each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits and motivational buttons. It is equally true that the foundations for sustained behavioral change cut across the generations. Instead of focusing exclusively on "seasoned workers" and looking for a set of specific cookie-cutter answers to the question, let's explore three philosophical underpinnings of change.
We can't change behaviors of anyone who doesn't want to change. It doesn't matter how old or how young a person is: If he doesn't want to change, doesn't see the need for change, or doesn't see a benefit from change, he will not change. What is the case for change? Why should seasoned workers care about doing something different, or behaving in a different way? In short, what's in it for them? If you don't have a clear answer to these questions—or worse, if the seasoned workers do not know the answers to these questions—then you are already behind the proverbial 8-ball.
People buy in to change they help to create. Most experienced workers, like other groups of workers, want to feel they have some control over their destiny. They want to positively influence their future. Allow people the opportunity to participate in the change process and they will be more likely to accept and support the change.
Treat people the way they want to be treated and not how we want to be treated. Successful behavioral change efforts start with understanding the people who need to change. What do they want from work? What do they fear? What motivates them? This might sound simplistic, but, for instance, if you know someone is a visual learner, adapt your style of communicating to what is best for them.
Perhaps helping seasoned workers adapt and change can be accomplished with a fresh mind-set best expressed by Johann von Goethe about 200 years ago: "Treat people as if they are what they ought to be and help them become what they are capable of being."
SOURCE: Richard Greenberg, president, The BreakThru Alliance, Marina del Rey, California, March 30, 2010
LEARN MORE: Please read how effectively changing behaviors can create lasting performance improvement.
Workforce Management Online, April 2010 -- Register Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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