How behavioural psychology can create a culture change

Behavioural psychologists believe there are observable and measurable laws that explain human behaviour.

This means any task or behaviour could be modified with the right conditioning, regardless of individual traits and thinking patterns, using methods of direct association and reinforcement. 

A vast body of academic research exists to back this up. 

It is basically this concept which is used by those charged with business transformation or introducing culture change, within a company. It means services can be designed around basic and more advanced human preferences.

Most culture change programmes fail

Despite the seeming simplicity of this, large-scale organisational change is hard and most programmes fail - often because there is no 'one size fits all' solution.

According to the 'influence model' first published in 2003 in management consultancy McKinsey's journal, the four main building blocks of organisational change are:

a) developing talent and skills because workers must have the capacity to carry out and embed the change required; b) reinforcing change with formal mechanisms because systems must be in alignment with the new behaviour; c) fostering understanding and conviction because people must be convinced of the change and the need for it; and d) role modelling because workers must see those they admire such as managers and colleagues carrying out the change.

Researchers say these principles are still relevant in a workplace that is rapidly changing - and more successfully if all four of them are used together. 

How do companies create tangible change?

Creating change in an organisation in a practical sense, could mean appointing 'change champions' whose sole job it would be to explain to employees what changes are to be made and why, with enthusiasm and positivity. This is a way of spreading the message of change throughout the company by communicating clearly to workers.

Another tactic would be to establish a smaller group of people within the organisation on whom the proposed changes can be 'tested' and whom would give feedback before products or policies were finalised.

Another method is using technology such as cloud-based software or tablet devices hooked up to Skype to allow workers to work anywhere at any time so even though they may be physically apart, they are still working closely.

Providing different kinds of furniture for workers means they have a variety of options to work where they feel comfortable whether a quiet working booth, in an atrium or on a high table with a stool. Break-out areas with sofas or café-style tables also encourages greater collaboration among workers.

FMs can initiate bottom-up change solutions 

While change management is often devised from the boardroom human resource and facilities management departments can help to anchor the desired behavioral changes through their ways of orchestrating service experiences and interacting with the employees.

Those executives interact daily with the workplace users. This also means those executives and service managers can be role models in realizing the desired behavioral and cultural change through their attitudes, ways of behaving and interacting with people in the office.

Through service orchestration and events, they can facilitate more social encounters but also be the eyes and ears on the ground to help the employees navigate through the changes and new ways of working.