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6 Rs of Behavioral Change

Business Transformation initiatives are typically undertaken to solve a pressing issue, bring about improved performance, or to serve customers better.  A critical element of the success of such initiatives entails transforming the existing behaviors of the employees across the organization.  However, this isn’t a straightforward task.

Attitudes and practices get reinforced in people by following established routines day in and day out.  Such practices become a part of an Organizational Culture over time.  Ingrained organizational behaviors and practices aren’t considered burdening until the organization’s performance starts declining considerably over time.  That’s when the leaders start thinking about changing these beliefs and habitual actions.

Psychology and Neuroscience can help enterprises change the deeply embedded attitudes and practices of people and replace those with new beliefs and practices.  Leading organizations are using psychology and brain research to induce successful change.  Specifically, they focus on the right priorities to enable Organizational and Behavioral Change and take the following 6 steps—or 6 Rs of Behavioral Change:

  1. Recognize
  2. Relabel
  3. Reflect
  4. Refocus
  5. Respond
  6. Revalue

Let’s dive deeper into the first 3 steps critical to render behavioral change.

Step 1 – Recognize

The first step involves the leadership reflecting on the behaviors that are required to be transformed.  Leaders are responsible for articulating the future vision of an organization, prioritizing and implementing initiatives to achieve the vision, and take measures to tackle disruption caused by technology and rivals.  Self-Reflection on undesired behaviors by role models (including senior leaders) is essential to make other people ponder over their behaviors.

Leadership behaviors inform the workforce about the Transformation required, assist in championing the agenda, and make these behaviors resonate across the board.  Individuals, in turn, should contemplate on the alignment of their behaviors with their personal / organizational goals, think of new improved ways of doing things, and dump convenient yet unproductive behaviors.

Step 2 – Relabel

The 2nd step of the 6 Rs to Organizational Change necessitates categorizing and naming the flawed or unfit behaviors.  Neuroscience research has revealed that by naming behaviors and understanding that thoughts are merely ideas, persons with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can disregard useless thoughts and behaviors that trigger them to wash their hands again and again.

Relabeling thoughts allows individuals to stop reflecting on useless thoughts.  Likewise, in an organizational setting leadership needs to evaluate which shared thoughts don’t work well, categorize them, and communicate the reasons for their unsuitability across the organization.

Step 3 – Reflect

In this step, senior management replaces outdated beliefs and behaviors and outlines the vision or desired objectives and behaviors.  The outlined desired objectives and behaviors need to be explicit, translated into daily actions, and attractive to the people.  This may warrant training of people to reflect on the desired expectations and behaviors collectively.  Effective communication of benefits of altered objectives and behaviors assists in subsiding the unrest associated with change in people and relaxing their mind and thoughts.  This must include informing people that uncertainties are part of business and that they should keep their focus on organizational values and what matters most during change.  Reflection creates a sense of ownership among employees that is otherwise difficult to be achieved by any cascaded top-to-bottom directives.

Interested in learning more about the other steps or Rs critical to engender Change ?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on 6 Rs to Behavioral Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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