recent survey of 3,199 business owners and executives indicates that only about 30 percent of programs addressing “change” succeed.  Where 30 percent sounds low, that is considerably higher than the success rate of programs addressing generational changes of business ownership or succession.  If both programs involve managing new behaviors, why is the success rate for one so much higher than the other?

Ongoing business success is all about managing behavior change, whether it’s interpersonal skills with family and staff, business and financial strategy, or satisfying personal goals and interests.  To swing the odds in your favor, people are looking for four conditions that shift their thinking from compliance to commitment. 

Those four conditions or building blocks include:

Inspiration.  People want a story so compelling that they not only agree with it, they become almost evangelistic about it.    To be compelling, the story must be grounded in emotion; logic and common sense won’t work.  People jump on board because of how they feel and then come up with reasons to justify their actions.

Stake in the Game.   Most of us generally perform better when we have something to gain from our efforts.    Sometimes the most important reward you can give people is control over how they accomplish the task.  People consistently move toward what gives them an emotional high.

There may be a problem if your friends happen to think you’re a control freak.  You need to focus more on the result and less on the process.  For example in baseball, the goal for every starting pitcher is always a “perfect game”.  There have been fewer than 20 of those in the game’s entire history.  Perfection is serendipitous.  Excellence is sustainable and can be repeated regularly, especially if it is rewarded.

Tools.  People need the right tools for what they’ve set out to do.  You don’t give a mountain climber scuba gear.  Sometimes those tools are physical and sometimes they are mental.  Invest in your resources.  Provide the best equipment and processes you can afford and make sure that you have successor development plans in place. 

Feedback.  We like to keep score.  It’s our way of knowing how well we’ve done.    We seem to have an intrinsic and burning desire to do or be better and when there is no feedback from coworkers,  the manager, parent, or teacher then we are often left with an empty, “what’s the point?” feeling.  

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