Puppy training.

In your company.

I have a young dog, a Labrador. His name is Sammy and he is about six months old now. Every Sunday morning, I bring him along to a deserted parking lot to meet up with other dog owners for a puppy training course. ‘Puppy training’ is misleading though, since it isn’t the puppy who is there to learn. If all goes well, the dog owner learns a lot, though.

As his owner, I am learning how to get Sammy to do what I want – and that I need to have patience when he doesn’t. For example, we practice that dogs need to lie down when we say ‘down’. Dog training is based on rewarding good behaviour. When behaviour is rewarded, the dog will exhibit that behaviour more often.

It’s important to know what motivates a dog, so you know how to reward them. It took a couple of weeks to find out what motivates Sammy most, but now it is easy: old cheese. He will do anything to get a piece.

Different way of working? Different behaviour

Digitalisation and the introduction of new ICT in organisations also require new behaviour. Whether it involves project management, billing hours or a more streamlined purchasing process: working and collaborating in a different way does require different behaviour. But people are not dogs; we are more complex creatures.

We might sometimes think that we are motivated to do things for the equivalent of old cheese – i.e. money. But that is only partly the case. Daniel Pink (2009) provides an alternative explanation in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us”. He explains that even though money is a motivator, people don’t really take action until they feel a sense of intrinsic motivation – when they feel inside that something is meaningful, satisfying or right, are inspired and can contribute to an important goal.

So what makes up that intrinsic motivation?

The specifics of intrinsic motivation differ from people to people, but it always involves a couple of basic elements. Daniel Pink says that intrinsic motivation can be found in the following three elements: autonomy, purpose and mastery. Autonomy is about being able to make your own choices – for example about time management and which tasks you want to carry out. Mastery is about excelling in your work, but also about receiving new challenges, support and time for additional personal development. Purpose means that people want to feel that they are actually doing something useful at work. This goes beyond matters of self-interest, like money. Much like having to figure out that my puppy liked cheese, it might also take some searching to find out what motivates which employee.

Strength of repetition

For that matter, it takes more than just intrinsic motivation. As stated, the puppy isn’t learning all that much during the training course. You need to practice with the puppy all week, spending five minutes repeating the lesson (preferably several times a day), for the puppy to learn the preferred new behaviour. If you don’t practice, the puppy still won’t be able to do it next week.

It’s basically the same with people. If we want to learn new behaviour and make sure that it becomes a habit, then we need to start doing it every single day for at least seven weeks. That’s when we start being able to do it on autopilot.

Embracing change means taking steps

So you want to ensure successful digitalisation and get your colleagues motivated to show new behaviour more often? Then start looking for their intrinsic motivation and take into account that people will need actual training as well as time to truly internalise new behaviour.

Then you’ll see your employees will embrace change. They’ll come up with their own ideas and suggestions for improvement. Your colleagues will actively take the initiative to step up. So when will you start looking for the intrinsic ‘cheese’ that motivates your employees and get started on training?

Would you like to know more about how to involve people in the process of change? Here at BizzStream, we don’t offer puppy training courses… But we do help you create a digital strategy, in which the elements of people, processes and technology are the key to your success. Contact us if you would like to know more.

Name:Daniëlle Stout

Function:Marketing Communication

Company:Van Meijel Automatisering BV

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