There are three ways we can try to change another’s behavior. We can order someone to change, enforcing the altered behavior with penalties or threats (coercion). We can provide a reward or some other external recognition that is of value to them should they change (motivation). We can provide a path that will make them a better person or allow them to be something different than they are (inspiration). Whether in a business or personal relationship – or any role in which we find ourselves interacting with another in order to accomplish a single objective – positive and meaningful change results from an intentional action (even if one intentionally decides not to act) rather than an accidental happenstance.
Supervisors often coerce individuals to change. They issue orders, give directions and tell people what to do (and often how to do it). Theirs can often be a world having few opportunities for independent action so they provide even fewer chances for people they supervise to act independently. While supervision IS (thankfully) changing, many individuals leading work that can be accomplished without much training or preparation spend much of their time assigning work, reviewing processes and measuring results, leaving little time to invest on motivating or influencing altered behavior. Rather than asking or laying the groundwork for
Managers often motivate individuals to change. They identify alternatives, provide choices and give people reasons that make them want to alter their behavior. Motivation to change can be as minimal as providing a tangible reward to induce action. When combined with punishment for not changing, motivation can be a powerful means of producing results. The problem with motivation, however, is that an external force must initiate the change. In a working relationship, a manager often identifies what is best for the organization, the employee and him or her self then initiates action by spelling out what will happen if change does not occur (coercion) but also what will happen should favorable change occur (motivating the alteration). As long as a manager is present to identify a suspect behavior and provide reason to change, good things will happen. Rarely, however, will an employee used to constant motivation see the need to change unless they continue to receive external impetus. In a relationship, individuals who motivate often do so by first “breaking down” another (coercion) but then provide a reason that change would be beneficial (often benefiting the motivator as much if not more than the motivated). Much can be accomplished when individuals are motivated to change – the problem with motivation, however, is that an object at rest (or an individual whom is content to do what he or she is doing) tends to remain at rest (or doing what has proven to be comfortable). Until one is convinced that they must change their behavior if they are to receive different results, they will not experience growth.