shaping employee attitudes and behaviors

Shaping Attitudes and Behaviors with Technology

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Cynthia Pizarro, Founder, Ohana Software

What do you want your team to believe about your company?  As a leader, your most important job is to get your employees to lean into their work.  This means tapping into the discretionary energy that is released only when your employees are actively engaged by your firm’s mission and vision.  But, first, your employees must believe that they matter to the team and you care about them personally.  When this happens, you can exceed every goal.

So, what’s standing in your way?  The most common workforce challenges that business leaders face are ineffective communication and lack of connection.  Often this isn’t for lack of effort.  In fact, the root of the problem usually isn’t too little information.  It’s too much.  Remote teams and antiquated tools compound the problem.

Here are three strategies to shape employee attitudes and behaviors:

1. Make your communications about them.

Dale Carnegie published one of the best-selling books of all time: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  The book has sold over 15M copies and is the 8th most popular business book on Amazon.  And, it’s over 80 years old.  Mr. Carnegie’s message has stood the test of time and transformed leaders.

Before writing his book, Mr. Carnegie read hundreds of biographies to learn how the world’s greatest leaders achieved their success and came to this conclusion:  To motivate people, you need to make them the center of attention.

Technology allows us to deliver finely-tuned, highly-personalized messages based on data that lets us measure and predict preferences, attitudes, and behaviors.  Personalized communications create employee experiences that inspire positive attitudes, reinforce right beliefs, and drive engagement.

Think about this woman in this photo – she’s engaged with arguably the most engaging technology ever developed – an iPhone.  iPhone really was the perfect name.  The reason it is so engaging is because it’s so personal.  It’s all about you – your photos, email, friends, social network, banking, shopping, games, and Bitmoji.  What is on your phone is HIGHLY personalized.  You feel known, loved, and rewarded.  So, how can we apply this observation to attracting our employees to lean into your company’s goals?

If we pay close attention, our employees are telling us how they want to hear from us by their actions and feedback.  But, many employers are slow to listen or prefer to maintain status quo – even when most of us would admit that communicating with and connecting our teams is an on-going challenge.

Here’s what our employees are saying:

  • 30% say they ignore their email (Source: Apprise)
  • 74% say they feel they are missing out on information (Source: Dynamic Signal)
  • 55% say that a mobile app would help them stay informed and engaged (Source: Mindshare)
  • AND 70% keep their phones within eye contact at work (Source: Careerbuilder)

This data leads to the second strategy…

2. Create a digital workplace.

In today’s highly-connected world, it is essential to proactively shape the attitudes of your team or someone else will.  Leveraging the right tools to create a digital workplace is essential to getting through the noise and reaching your audience.  In contrast, the wrong tools will further bury your team and create a distraction that undermines your efforts and reduces productivity.

These days, people are using text over calling and reading twitter before the newspaper. And, we are all overwhelmed by email and increasingly distracted by instant messengers. A digital workplace allows you to reinforce your most important messages, create deeper connections, and deliver highly personalized messages to the right people at the right time – without creating a distraction.  Personalized messages capture our attention and keep us coming back for more.  And, when our employees are paying attention, we have the greatest ability to shape the attitudes and behaviors that will generate the best results.

Here’s the big challenge – 43% of employees reported working remotely in some capacity in 2017 (Source: Gallup).  Whether in Starbucks or a home office. Since we are always connected today and the lines have blurred between the physical office and the place where work actually happens.

Businesses have adopted technology far slower than we have as individuals and this is widening the communication gap.  Think about it, for most of us, email is still the primary form of communication and it’s 30-year old technology.  Texting is nearly 20-years old.  Smart phones are already 10-years old and, now, virtual assistants are changing our behaviors at home.  To effectively engage our teams, we need to understand how technology has changed our behaviors personally and let that inform new ways to connect and communicate well with our teams.

Effective communication is essential to engaging your team and changing attitudes and behaviors.  So, a digital workplace strategy must be a primary element of your strategic plan. It’s not enough to give them another app. To get your most important messages in front of your workforce, your digital workplace must serve as an information filter which leads us to the final strategy…

3. Implement information filters.

In 2014, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. That’s 657 billion photos per year. Another way to think about it: Every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed in total 150 years ago.  Today, we are subjected to more information in a day than a person was over a lifetime in the middle ages. 

Information overload has a name.  It’s called infobesity or infoxication and is used to describe the difficulty of understanding an issue and effectively making decisions when one has too much information about that issue.

As leaders, one of our most important jobs is to cut through noise of too much information and keep everyone focused on what is most important.  Ohana was developed to be an information filter. 

In his book, “The Advantage,” Patrick Lencioni says “The world is full of organizations where employees feel uninformed and in the dark even though they have access to more glossy newsletters, interactive Web sites, and overly produced employee meetings than they need or want.  What they don’t get is consistent, authentic, and relevant communication.”

Lencioni goes on to say that we must create clarity around the most important information.  And, when we are communicating with clarity, there is no such thing as over-communication.  So, how are you accomplishing this with your team – especially those that aren’t in the office?

To further cut through the noise and make your messages last longer, replace words with pictures and videos whenever possible.  I have nothing against reading.  But, this is increasingly the way that we communicate personally, and it is how our employees want us to communicate with them.

Unlike words, photos instantly ignite emotions and associations — without a written or spoken word.  When we look at visual images our bodies release the hormones: serotonin, which creates feelings of connection and belonging, and oxytocin, which reinforces feelings of trust and safety. This mix of hormones works quickly to make people feel connected.

Here’s why picture and video rich content work better than written communications:

  • The human attention span is 8 seconds
  • Humans process visuals 60,000x faster than text
  • 93% of all communication is visual
  • 81% of people skim content
  • People learn 40% better with pictures
  • After a period of three days we retain 60% of what we see and only 10% of what we hear.
  • The response to photos happens regardless of generation, language, or culture.

This is why your employees aren’t reading your long emails.  Sharing photos with your team is a powerful way to shape attitudes and behaviors.  The emotional impact of photos and videos are the key to keeping us coming back for more.  So, put photos and videos front and center.

These three approaches say your employees, “I believe my people are our greatest assets.”  Creating a strategy is the easy part.  Being intentional and consistent is the challenge.

To shape attitudes, you need to think like a storyteller. You become the guide and your employee is the hero.

Companies are using Ohana to modernize the way they communicate with and connect their teams.  Ohana is designed to deliver highly personalized messages to the right people at the right by creating an information filter to keep important messages in front of employees.  Ohana makes it easy to stay in front of your employees, deliver narratives, and reinforce the experiences that shape the beliefs of your workforce.

You can make radical changes to your team’s attitude in small steps like these to transform your culture.  Are you ready to take the next step?  Schedule a conversation with an Ohana Engagement Specialist today.