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Welcome to the July 2010 issue of Alignment Solutions! Here are three of the things going on this month:

  • We have re-designed our web site! It is more user-friendly and includes some new programs, including the Private Roster Mentor program. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
  • Our 2010 teleseminar series, The Employee-centered Workplace™: The Key to Optimizing Business Results kicks off on July 21st. Click here for more details or to register.
  • As announced last month, I am training to walk my 8th marathon in October to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This experience has allowed me to identify some important parallels between training for a marathon and good business practices. To learn what two of those valuable lessons are, I invite you to check out my June 25th blog post titled “What Marathon Training Can Teach Us about Business.” If you would like to take advantage of the opportunity to help me “Save lives, one mile at a time,” you may make a tax- free donation to the Society through my Team in Training web site:

Our article series called Research News You Can Use selects findings of academic research that are applicable in the workplace, and suggests how you might implement them in your organization.

July Topic: How to Encourage Employees to Engage in Innovative Behavior

Premise: If having employees generate or introduce new ideas and implement them is important for your organization’s success, you might be interested in the findings of a recent study that identified five factors that influence employees’ decisions about whether to engage in innovative behavior. We offer seven suggestions for how managers can affect these decisions.

This month’s theme is achieving lasting behavioral change. Because we live in a dynamic environment, one thing we can count on is the need for change. Adapting to changing conditions is a necessity for organizations and individuals to succeed and thrive. Leaving the question of how to enable change for another day, this month we address the issue of how to ensure desired changes are sustained over time.

The Feature Article, “7 Ways to Achieve Lasting Behavioral Change,” explains why modifying behaviors can be difficult, and suggests seven ways to ensure the desired changes are sustainable.

In “Taking an Appreciative Approach to Lasting Behavioral Change,” the Business Solutions section explains why taking an appreciative approach is such a powerful tool for ensuring the sustainability of desired workplace behaviors.

In the Personal Solutions section, “Promises, Promises: Three Ways to Achieve Lasting Behavioral Change in Your Person Life” provides three suggestions for how to follow through on converting your good intentions for lasting behavioral change to action.

I invite you to visit my newly re-designed web site at and my blog at to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!

Do you know someone who could benefit from the value we provide? If so, let’s create a win-win-win situation! Contact us about how we can make this happen.


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7 Ways to Achieve Lasting Behavioral Change

Given the dynamic environment in which we live, achieving lasting behavioral change is critical to organizational success. Yet decisions about whether to sustain these changes over time (as well as whether to make them in the first place) are individual choices. The question we address here is, “How do you ensure the desired behaviors will last?”

Change can be a scary proposition, as it requires us to venture into the unknown. As a result, human beings tend to resist change, even when told the results will benefit us personally. Recently I advised an executive whose workplace is very toxic to leave the organization for a healthy environment. Although he agrees that the suggestion makes sense, fear of the unknown is holding him back. While he is a highly skilled expert who realistically has many job options, the dysfunctions of his current organization are familiar to him. In his mind, he has created many obstacles or reasons why he should NOT leave, such as how difficult it would be for him to “start over again” in developing work relationships somewhere else. Odds are that he will remain where he is in spite of the toll on his mental and physical well-being.

Fears such as this one often are behind the reluctance to change our behaviors. As a result, even when managers are successful in persuading employees to change their behavior, there is a high probability that the changes will be short-lived – i.e., people will revert to the undesirable behavior. So how can we, individually and collectively, achieve lasting behavioral change? After giving some thought to this question, I came up with over three dozen effective tools that help reach this outcome. Here are seven of them:

  1. Identify and focus on what’s in it (i.e., the behavioral change) for ME. The best motivator I know is enlightened self-interest. However, the key to success is focusing on individual interests, not on those of the team or the organization or the family.
  2. Create a very clear and compelling picture of the outcome, and explain how the desired behavior supports it. People who see the connection between behaviors and outcomes are much more willing to embrace the desired change and sustain it over time.
  3. Identify and demonstrate clearly the desired behavior. It’s not enough to say “Don’t do X.” You must go further and demonstrate (not just verbalize) the desired behavior, Y. People need a “picture” of the behavior you are requesting, something to replace the one that represents the current behavior. Otherwise they will revert quickly to what they know.
  4. Address the resistance to change directly instead of allowing it to become the proverbial elephant in the living room - i.e., the big obstacle that everyone knows is there but no one talks about. Employees must be able to get past the resistance before they can focus on changing and sustaining their behavior.
  5. Reinforce the desired behaviors. Make sure the infrastructure (e.g., performance management and reward systems) supports the desired behaviors.
  6. Celebrate successes along the way, not just final outcomes. This keeps the focus on the achievement of the desired behavior in the short-term as well as in the long-term.
  7. Leaders must actively champion the desired changes. They must be role models of the behaviors they are asking others to exhibit – i.e., they must walk the talk.

To learn about how to achieve lasting behavioral change through appreciative approaches, please see our article in the Business Solutions section. If you have questions about any of these seven suggestions, please contact us.

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Taking an Appreciative Approach to Lasting Behavioral Change

One way to achieve behavioral change is to show individuals why it’s in their best interest to engage in the desired behavior. However, motivating them to sustain the change in the long-term often is a challenge. Though there literally are dozens of ways to encourage individuals to continue the new behavior over time, in this article we address one tool that represents a powerful and effective way to achieve this outcome.

Taking an appreciative approach in the workplace (or at home) means we regard situations and people from a positive, enthusiastic, and future-oriented point of view. It means seeing the proverbial glass as being half full instead of half empty. We focus on the positive instead of on the negative, on successes rather than on failures. We ask questions that point to the future, which we can influence, rather than to the past, which cannot be changed. We recognize people for the value they provide. The language that we use and the questions that we ask deliberately point people in the direction of positive answers, even in negative situations. For example, when something has gone wrong, instead of asking what caused the problem or who messed up, ask what was done well in the situation. Use the answers as the foundation for identifying how to ensure success in the future.

Why is taking an appreciative approach such a powerful tool for sustaining change? Here are three reasons:

  1. By recognizing the value that people provide and the contributions they make instead of focusing on their missteps, you encourage them to respond positively to requests to change their behavior.
  2. Most people respond positively when asked to focus on their strengths, and defensively when confronted with their mistakes.
  3. Most individuals are eager to repeat past successes, and respond enthusiastically to opportunities to do so.

For examples of appreciative questions you can use in the workplace, I invite you to read our article Transformative Questions for the Workplace.


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Promises, Promises: Three Ways to Achieve Lasting Behavioral Change in Your Personal Life

How many times have you promised yourself that you would change a specific undesirable behavior? Have you ever been disappointed because somehow your good intentions were not translated into sustained behavioral changes? Despite such outcomes, it really is possible to make lasting changes. Here are three suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Be clear about the reason for deciding to make the change. To be sustainable, the reason must represent something that you value personally, not something you are doing to please someone else.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Recognize that creating lasting behavioral change is a journey, not an event. It’s likely that you will lose your way upon occasion, falling back into old, familiar patterns. When that happens, identify the lesson(s) learned, forgive yourself for the slip, get back on track, and resume your forward momentum.
  3. Ask for, and receive, help. Identify one or more accountability partners – e.g., a trusted friend or colleague, a Mastermind group, a mentor or coach – who will be honest with you, provide constructive feedback, and offer sound advice.

Though we may not realize it, we have many resources and tools to support a goal of sustainable behavioral change. Which ones have worked well for you?


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Date of Publication: July 2010 | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch