Common alignment issues include:
- Aligned behavior not routinely reinforced. Many times this can lead to people believing it’s not important to continue to do a specific behavior. In addition, immediacy teaches the correlation between the positive reinforcement and new, desired behavior. Research indicates to change a new behavior into a habit requires 17-21 times of reinforcement.
- Inconsistent behavior not coached in a timely manner. Consistency teaches predictability, creates trust and helps eliminate stress and confusion. When behavior exceptions become the general rule - the ‘accepted or perceived way we do things here’ (culture) gets very fuzzy. Fuzziness creates a loss of clarity. Clarity is the first step in personal accountability.
- Misaligned behavior tolerated too long. Procrastination or lack of pro-activity can set a precedent and provide for extended debates and arguments that it ‘was or use to be okay’. Rationalizing misaligned behaviors by making excuses only allows the behavior and perceptions to continue. In addition, a leader’s overall effectiveness can be called into question by other direct reports, peers, and upper management when misaligned behavior is tolerated too long.
- Unacceptable behavior consumes too much time. It absolutely takes time to properly address prolonged or blatant unacceptable behavior. But it is important to remember, that in most cases, if a leader has already effectively explained the behavior the employee is expected to improve, coached them on ways to improve, and allowed time for the employee to make improvement then most issues will not get to this stage.
Here are five key skills that can help you better align behavior:
- Dealing with differences of opinion
- Giving and accepting feedback
- Creating mutual responsibility in accountability (between supervisor and employee)
- Coaching for reinforcement, enhancement, correction, and discipline
- Using positive reinforcement (research shows the ideal praise/criticism ratio for maximum performance is nearly 6 to 1)
Most leaders know these skills are important but struggle to properly allocate the necessary time to consistently execute them. Also, some leaders are misguided and think these skills are nice to have but not needed to be successful.
Have your leaders mastered all five skills? If not, then your culture has unnecessary waste, performance inefficiencies, and loses of human creativity & capability.
Author Jim Collins once said, “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99% alignment.” Don’t make behavior alignment a last resort performance remedy.
If you would like to leverage some practical techniques in these five skills, then let’s connect!