Consider these facts:
(1) All change—even self-selected change involves loss and therefore some pain.
(2) A carrot/stick approach rarely work in the long run.
(3) Gentle persuasion doesn’t engage someone. People don’t like to feel persuaded!
(4) Focused attention – over time – reshapes the patterns of the brain. ** Thus, for any change to “stick”, an action (and attention) need to be concentrated and continual. The brain has, in fact, neuroplasticity. It can be re-shaped but only with focused attention over time.
(5) People’s expectations shape their reality. To reshape expectations, people need an event or an experience that provokes them to internally change their mental model. It’s an inside out approach. That’s why we talk about employees “owning” any kind of change initiative. The “insights” about change must come from them—not directed from above.
So what to do: Reframe the situation. Look at what is possible and positive. Leave problem behaviors in one’s memory bank. Instead, focus on solutions that are facilitated so the individual develops personal insights rather than being given advice. And then systematically, religiously, keep talking about solutions and actions. The ball will begin to move.
** 1997 study of 31 public-sector managers by Baruch College researchers found that a training program alone increased productivity 28% but the addition of follow-up coaching to the training increased productivity 88%.