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  • Writer's pictureRCA

The drivers of Human Behaviour in the Workplace

What drives human behaviour? It's certainly not the first time the question has been asked in the context of the workplace. In the 10 years I've been working with SME's as well as corporate organisations, four common threads have revealed themselves in the companies that seem to achieve more consistent staff behaviour.

1) Mechanisms to translate Values into behaviour.

Any company can compile a set of values that, on paper, sound fantastic. The values read so well you immediately look to see whether a job application form is nearby. The reality in most cases however is that this document is more of a marketing exercise than a reflective indication of behaviour within the company.

I have learnt that values will only ever translate into behaviour if they are articulated consistently and systematically throughout the company in a manner that each level of employee within the business is capable of understanding and more importantly, applying to their roles and deliverables. A value which lives in the theoretical space will very rarely manifest into behaviour, especially at the lower levels of the business. In other words, values should always be communicated within context in order for them to be applied effectively.

2) A Consequence Culture

The majority of human beings by nature err on the side of being conflict-averse as opposed to conflict oriented. The bi-product of this tendency is often a leniency from the leadership tier which many employees then take advantage of, especially those who are less subject to quantifiable performance indicators. This is not to say that staff can do what they want when they want but many companies do not deliberately and proactively manage the performance of the individuals within it. Humans are creatures of habit and to change habitual behaviour requires a progressive and proactive cause and effect approach. A large majority of managers avidly avoid the need to systematically performance manage their teams because it is often uncomfortable or misrepresented as micro-managing.

The companies