Information alone does not change behaviour

Updated: Nov 1, 2019


Let's the the example of regular exercise. I could search the internet for all the information I could find about why it's important to exercise regularly. My doctor could share her reasons, my friends and family could share theirs. But still I find reasons not to exercise regularly.


So what else do I need? I need to know why it matters and more importantly why it should matter to me. That could come in the form of a wake-up call from test results after a check up or even feeling out of breath doing the simplest of things. I also need to know what constitutes 'regular exercise'. When and how I should do it. I probably need to get some support - personal trainer or running buddy, training gear of course. Knowing me I'd also need a plan to reward myself when I make progress and also to overcome obstacles, like, it's too cold to get out of bed I'll do it tomorrow.


Don't think that's a good example - what about the smoker who knows all about the issues cigarettes can cause, they may even know a family member or friend that has died or is very ill as a direct result of smoking, but, they still smoke!


Changing our behaviour is hard and information alone simply wont cut it.


How do you approach changing behaviour in the workplace? Do you simply inform people of the new behaviour and then maybe send them on a training program about the new behaviour? How well do you think that will work?


Individual behaviour makes up organisational culture so to change culture you need to change many individuals behaviour - not an easy job and it wont happen overnight.


As an individual we need high levels of change fitness, which includes some of the things identified above and more, we can get this through training (information), coaching (support & accountability), taking action (embed) and reflecting (learn and adapt). For an organisation though, unless you embark on a program to improve every employees change fitness, leaders will have to develop and implement strategies to support the gaps (assuming you know the gaps).


You can do everything right - priorities, strategies, plans, budgets, resources etc. to make a change in your organisation but if people don't change (i.e. change their behaviour) then the change will fail.