<p>The most successful learning officers know their job is not to facilitate corporate learning. Rather, it is to influence change. Yet there is much more to changing behavior than what happens in the classroom. </p> <p>When it comes to influencing organizational change, corporate learning is only one element in an arsenal of change strategies. Research conducted by VitalSmarts reveals six different sources of influence that combine to both motivate and enable people to behave in certain ways. Leaders who target four or more of these six sources are likely to be more successful in securing rapid and sustainable behavioral change in their organizations.</p> <p>Consider the example of Karie Willyerd, now a senior executive at Sun Microsystems. Formerly, Willyerd was the director of training and organizational development at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (LMTAS). At the time, LMTAS was fighting for its life. The U.S. and British militaries were shopping for a supplier to build the next generation of fighter jets. If LMTAS didn’t win its bid, it would likely see its demise.</p> <p>That’s where Willyerd came in. She had been tasked by LMTAS’s CEO to help change the company’s culture. She accomplished this within a year of beginning her assignment, and the CEO credited her work as a key element of the company’s eventual win of the $200 billion program.</p> <p>Willyerd was successful because instead of focusing solely on skill building, she targeted six sources of influence to change entrenched behaviors.</p> <p>1. Link to mission and values. Willyerd involved executives in focus groups where they heard firsthand the challenges employees faced. Each executive then prepared a white paper describing the most problematic behaviors in the culture. The significant emotional impact of these interviews made the executive team members passionate advocates of change.</p> <p>2. Overinvest in skill building. Willyerd implemented a training program that helped engineers and technicians effectively engage in crucial conversations. This skill set enabled employees to align quickly on decisions, confront mistakes and facilitate effective teamwork. </p> <p>3. Harness peer pressure. Willyerd realized that how people were treated when they engaged in a crucial conversation would make all the difference. So she identified hundreds of informal leaders from across the organization and engaged them to coach and encourage training graduates. The influence of these informal leaders had a remarkable effect on driving change.</p> <p>4. Create social support. Willyerd knew the toughest conversation people would face would be with their boss. As a result, the training was delivered by bosses. By engaging leaders as teachers, she ensured the chain of command welcomed attempts to use the new skills.</p> <p>5. Align rewards and ensure accountability. Early on, Willyerd challenged LMTAS’s CEO and his executives to put their money where their mouth was. She created a survey to measure behavioral change and urged executives to tie 25 percent of their bonuses to achievement in improving the behaviors targeted by the training. They did. This one pledge sent an enormous message of commitment to the entire organization.</p> <p>6. Change the environment. To ensure people adopted new behaviors, Willyerd created cues, reminders and reports that kept the skills on people’s minds. Regular newsletters, surveys and posters set a mental agenda for behavior change across the organization.</p> <p>There’s more to influencing new behavior than just delivering high-quality training. If learning officers want to increase the ROI they’re offering to their organizations, they need to become influencers.</p> <p><em>– Kerry Patterson</em></p>
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