Changing Behaviors is the Hardest Thing

changeClients of The Latimer Group have heard me say, many times, that the hardest thing for any organizational leader to do is to change the way his or her people actually behave. If you want to reinvent your organization, you can add or subtract business units, product lines, services, locations, etc, etc, etc. You can make yourself bigger or smaller, more global or more domestic. You can make a decision to hire people with different skill sets. You can change lots of things about your organization. But the hardest thing to change is the way your people actually behave.

Why? Because human beings are creatures of habit, and every year millions of “New Year’s Resolutions” get forgotten within weeks and eventually we go back to what we are used to doing.

Yet, we hear all the time, a desire from executives and business leaders to change the culture or work habits or communication styles within their organization.It is really hard to execute and to make it stick.

So how do you do it?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be specific about the behaviors you want to see. Generalities will get you nowhere.

2. Be specific about WHY the new behaviors are important. Don’t just tell people what to do, tell them why it is good for the company, good for their group, good for them. Smart employees will always ask “why” and you want them to. You want inquisitive people working for you.

3. Make sure (and this is the most important part) that management is taking the lead and exhibiting the behaviors that you are asking others to exhibit. The change can’t be hollow. It has to be led by the top people.

As you are thinking about your team or your organization in 2013, ask yourself if your people behave or interact with others in ways that make your organization what you want it to be. And if you do not like what you have, start thinking hard about how you will change those behaviors. It is not easy and will require great thought and dedication from organizational leadership.

Have a great day!

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at

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