Positive behavioral change doesn't happen just by chance - the only way to succeed is if new habits match the culture of the organisation and the employees. And no one knows this more than the trainers of Breaking Habits, who specialise in behaviour between people, and have worked with clients such as Heineken, Ikea and Shell.
What does the behaviour of employees say? What are their needs? What does the manager think? What does the customer want?
As a trainer at Breaking Habits, Jovanka Hoeboer deals with these questions on a daily basis. In her work, Jovanka personally experiences what is really happening on the shop floor. That is why we asked her for her vision on communication, philosophy and other important issues within (successful) organisations.
Breaking Habits - tell us what you're all about!
"Yes! Currently, the Breaking Habits team consists of seven young and enthusiastic trainers. Every one of us is regularly on the road for training, and we also each have our own specialisations and responsibilities. In addition to providing training, I also work on project management in the background. Our core business is providing training to groups of people, often from very different organisations and companies."
How do you do that?
"We believe that every person acts with good intentions. However, often people are too focused on thinking of the problems. Further to this, change is often an exciting and desirable for people. We understand this and use it through our guidance, by both breaking through old patterns and learning new patterns. We strive to make learning as tangible as possible and to connect the training to real life situations. We do this by combining classic forms of training with more innovative forms (such as gaming, micro-learnings, digital, outdoor, and so forth)."
So this means the focus is on people's behavior?
"Correct. Another important part of our work is therefore supporting organisations in employee development processes. To support employees, for example, in dealing better with changes, in improved communication and collaboration, in forming a shared vision or mission, and in creating positive customer experiences. Real contact is always the basis, and the starting point."
Real contact. What is that?
"What we often see is that people do not know what they can expect from each other. Expectations are often not expressed, out of fear or uncertainty, or simply because we assume that the other person knows what it is. This leads to distance, noise and no real contact. This results in unpleasant cooperation, and unhappy employees. In our training courses we encourage the expression of expectations, checking your assumptions and just to be generally curious about each other. That is real contact."
How do you effectively establish contact?
"We have different methods for that. A method that I am enthusiastic about, for example, is the DISC model. The letters, D, I, S and C represent four preferred behavior styles. Everyone has their preference in the way of communication. Where one person, for example, needs more clarity and focuses on the result, the other considers the detail needed to get there as more important. The DISC model helps to give people insight into their own preferences and those of others. This offers tools to better understand each other and to engage in the conversation: 'What do you need from me in the collaboration, and how can I meet your needs without putting myself aside?'.
Even with customers or guests, real contact is the basis for our own company. By making less assumptions, and managing and exceeding expectations, you can make a difference."
What does that yield?
"We stimulate having real contact both internally and externally. Internally, between colleagues in the workplace, to generate a lot of new energy . Externally, to customers or guests, so that expectations are exceeded - or in other words the customer experience can be lifted from 'just good' to the WOW effect!"
In the context of customer expectations, I have been informed that you are performing 'mystery visits'. I am very curious about what that is!
"Right! In many of our trajectories, mystery visits are a regular part. A mystery visit is carried out by a person (unknown to the company) who gives feedback on the customer service of the staff, the customer experience or the themes that we see in the cooperation. The learnings that arise from this ensure that we have action points to focus on and practice during training. Mystery visits also offer the possibility to assess at the end of training whether the lessons are actually being applied in practice. This way, the learnings are lifted to a higher level and the difference can really be made."
What about communication with organisations with non-desk employees?
"When there is little to no face-to-face contact between employees, the contact moments that exist - such as calling, e-mailing or contact via another communication platform - become even more important. To find and involve each other in the work and the process, it's important to keep in touch with each other and to be able to help each other. Because you can't easily check the reaction of the other person in digital communication, it is extra important to be clear and careful with what you say. Social platforms for companies could contribute to more efficient and clear communication between employees."
What is the role of the manager(s) in development processes?
"Their role is extremely important! They are the designated person to give direction and to role model desired behaviour. A desired change will stand, or fall, with their efforts. They often participate actively in the process, and co-creation is geared to which moments their role is more prominent and when they also provide space for employees."
"Because you can't easily check the reaction of the other in digital communication, it is extra important to be clear and careful here. Social platforms for companies could contribute to more efficient and clear communication between employees."
How do you ensure that these changes are sustainable?
"Specific attention is needed to ensure new behavior in a team or organisation actually sticks. It's about retaining the results in the long term; the integration of the new behavior in the work processes, routines, daily activities and in the policy of the organisation. We organise the desired outcomes at the start, and monitor during and after the change process. This specific attention ensures that the innovation fits in with the vision and policy of the organisation and, during the process, allowing employees to be involved with the process of change. Managers also have an exemplary role in this - celebrating successes is important for retaining the results achieved, so we encourage them to do so."
Thank you Jovanka!