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Changing behavior

Changing behavior

How can you ensure lasting change and avoid falling back into the same old habits? Lasting behavioral change requires a combination of logic and emotions.

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Change is successful only if it is sustained. However, although many initiatives manage to modify behavior temporarily, these changes rarely last. After a year to eighteen months, everyone’s attention has shifted elsewhere. Old habits resurface, and the changes that had begun to take hold are quickly forgotten. A McKinsey study cited in the article “Helping Employees Embrace Change” estimates that approximately 60 percent of transformation programs fail to achieve their objectives!

The same phenomenon can be observed on a personal level. As sincere as they may be, resolutions have only a limited shelf life. For example, following an annual performance evaluation, a manager may resolve to motivate his subordinates by giving them more regular feedback. However, pressured by time constraints and day-to-day obligations, these feedback sessions quickly become few and far between. Another manager agrees to collaborate more actively with other departments. In principle, he is fully aware that closer collaboration is for the common good and will probably boost his personal performance as well. However, as soon as the first coordination problems arise, he hastily backpedals and concludes that flying solo is easier! There are many such examples of how difficult it is to form new habits.

The analyzed publications stress that the problem is rooted in the way change is managed. Indeed, the people who must change won’t succeed unless they are motivated, not only by logic, but also by their emotions. Otherwise, their rational brains will pull in one direction, while their feelings pull in another, leading them sooner or later back to square one. But it is not easy to strike just the right combination of head and heart. Indeed, this is a key issue for the initiators of change, as well as for those who manage it on a day-to-day basis.

Synthèse n°192b


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