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To Create Real Change… Create a Positive Environment

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How do we get change to stick in organizations?

It is commonly thought that putting processes in place is the way to do it.

This may work, but it’s only half the answer.

Processes work only when people follow them.

People follow procedures only when you’ve created an environment in which they are motivated to do so.

Things change only when people engage in new behaviors…there is nothing magic about new processes.

Once again, we see that leadership and organizational change comes down to understanding behavior and how to change it.

There is a recent educational psychology study that reinforces this, it’s a message I’ve been teaching leaders for many years.

The study finds…”To improve behavior in class, teachers should focus on praising children for good behavior, rather than telling them off for being disruptive.”

This may seem like common sense, but there’s much more to the story.

Here are a few more thoughts:

    1. Just knowing something or it being ‘common sense’ does not ensure it will happen under the right conditions.
    2. It’s not merely praising, but having a positive ratio of praise to punishment. They saw good effects with a 1:1 ratio of praise to reprimand, but the effects improved when the ratio was 2:1 or better.
    3. We all know that, although it’s hard to measure in a research study, praise must be genuine or it won’t work or can be damaging.

In so many ways, it is vital for leaders to learn to create a positive environment.

If you are interested in learning more about how behavioral science education can help you create a more effective work environment for your teams, please email me at

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