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"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

This is the final installment of a three-part series on influence.

Change is hard. Most people don't like it, even though they know that change leads to progress. In fact, there is an old saying that the only people who like change are babies with wet diapers.

Influencing people to change isn't easy. As we now know, the ultimate way to impart influence is to show someone what's in it for them if they do change. You do that through personal influence, social influence, and finally, structural influence.

You can enact structural influence through tactics that reward the behavior you're seeking and changing the environment to get people in the right mindset for change.

Rewarding the "Right" Behaviors

Many companies have a rewards program, but few motivate the right behaviors. Take the proverbial Employee-of-the-month program. You single out a top performer, recognize her in front of the group with a plaque and some other type of reward. Sounds great, right? But what happens when the meeting is over? The rest of the team leaves the meeting feeling less motivated than before, and the rewarded employee could be subject to whispers, resentment, and ridicule. People view vague rewards programs as a waste of time, and they are often written off as political.

Rewards that motivate should be gratifying and directly tied to the behaviors you want to encourage. For example, a hospital wanted doctors to become meticulous when washing their hands before surgery to help reduce infection. Nothing worked until they started providing doctors with hand sanitizer when they entered the room. If they were "caught" using the sanitizer, they were given a $10 reward. Suddenly, infection numbers plummeted. $10 wasn't much, but it was enough to motivate the behaviors desired by the administrators.

When you want to drive new behaviors on your team, examine the rewards you are offering. Are they directly connected to the desired behavior?

Change The Environment

It's a lot easier to change the environment than it is to change people. Today, study the interactions on your team. Who collaborates the most? Who rarely interacts? I'm willing to bet that people interact the most often with those they are in close proximity.

If you want to encourage new behaviors in your group, mix people up. Move offices and cubicles around, giving people a new "neighbor." For a while, you may notice that people get up and walk to talk to the people with whom they are used to working, but what happens in the meantime? As they take that walk, they will engage others, expanding their relationships and growing the network of colleagues with whom they share ideas. Soon, people are collaborating more, and they are more open to new ideas, processes, procedures and behaviors.

A change of scenery stimulates the brain and opens it up to change. If you want to change behaviors, consider changing the environment.

The Six Sources of Influence Recap

Over the course of this series we have discussed six sources of influence, divided into three categories. They are:
  1. Personal Influence: make the undesirable desirable and surpass your limits
  2. Social influence: harness peer pressure and find strength in numbers
  3. Structural influence: relevant rewards and change the environment

Becoming an influencer isn't a linear process. You'll find that you pull from different sources depending on who you are attempting to influence and the circumstances surrounding the change. Always remember that the primary goal is to get your influencee(s) to see what's in it for them. They won't change because you want them to change. They'll change because you helped them see how making a change will benefit them.


Larry Hart

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