Practical Solutions to Your Biggest Workplace Challenges

CEO’s are faced with many challenges, but what are the most common? The Predictive Index released a report outlining top CEO concerns. Fortunately, each of these challenges can be successfully addressed through the proven application of behavioral science. Even better, behavioral solutions work alongside an organization’s existing systems and processes so that enhanced performance is sustainable and persists over time.  

The use of behavioral science in the workplace is so effective because it helps identify root causes of ongoing challenges and creates targeted solutions that ensure people are doing more of the critical behaviors that lead to success and less of the behaviors that impede it. All business is behavior (interacting with colleagues, completing work orders, making sales) so it is in a company’s best interest to understand behavior if they hope to successfully manage and optimize it. Moreover, one of the best parts of using the science is that it relies on data collection to ensure recommended changes are having the intended effect. Here is how behavioral science addresses the top three challenges outlined by leading CEO’s in the report.

  • Finding the right talent: To find the right talent, work backwards and begin with strategy development. Ensure organizational goals are clear and well defined. From there, identify the leading indicators for success in meeting those goals. Next, identify what each arm of the organization must do to produce those results. Everyone within each department should have very clear pinpointed behaviors that are required, to yield the intended outcomes. Finally, use those pinpoints to evaluate the candidates (Are these behaviors they have shown in previous jobs? Does their work history demonstrate their ability to learn a new process? , etc.).  This improves the likelihood of success between the new hires and the organization and simultaneously works to ensure employee behavior is aligned with strategy (Refer to, “Getting the most out of employees” below.). Once you have secured the right talent, be sure your organization is doing its part to make them want to stay (see Seven Tips for Retaining Talent).
  • Building better operational processes: Let’s start by defining “better” as things that are done more quickly with less waste of resources and an increase in accuracy. That is to say, things get done faster and in the right way the first time. Building better operational processes is one thing, but it requires an understanding of human behavior to figure out how to get people to use them. Only behavioral science can ensure a new process will indeed be followed as intended to produce the desired results.
  • Getting the most out of employees: This can be easily addressed in two words: Positive reinforcement. People exceed expectations and produce discretionary effort only when working in an organization where the culture is such that employees are regularly recognized and reinforced for key behaviors that lead to results. Learning how to positively reinforce the right behaviors, from leadership down, is the key to maximizing employee performance (see Don’t Blame Employees for Lack of Effort—Managers Hold the Key).  

Even when it is apparent that help is needed, many organizations are reluctant to seek support from outside sources. Most identify cost as a prohibitive variable, as well as the difficulty to predict if the consultant will be worthwhile. This makes sense. Why do something if you can’t be sure the outcome will be good or even if it is good, if it outweighs the cost of the services or the cost of continuing as is? When looking to determine the right support, look for these components to increase the likelihood that the support you’re considering can demonstrate effectiveness and ROI that continues well past the engagement.

  • Leadership Development: Change must come from the top down. Thus, it is imperative that leaders have the skills necessary to carry out the company’s strategy, including behaviors that align with that strategy, and how to motivate direct reports to get there. ADI’s Applications for Behavioral Leadership workshop introduces you to the science and helps build the key leadership skills you need for success.
  • Expected Outcomes and Results: Clear pinpointing of current challenges, recommended solutions and rationale, and the changes that can be expected if the solutions are implemented accordingly. ADI’s Behavioral Roadmapping is a great place to start if you are stuck or aren’t sure how to proceed.
  • Measures of Success: Ensure the project has clear objectives and measurement systems to evaluate progress towards goals. Ongoing measurement holds each party accountable for their contribution towards long and short-term goals and protects project integrity.

For more than 40 years, ADI has used behavioral science to help organizations address challenges like these. Whether working with ADI, someone else, or trying to fix these challenges independently, use these recommendations to more precisely evaluate challenges and effectively address them. In the end, you will have a happier, more engaged workforce and a more successful organization.

Posted by Emily Moses

Emily Moses is an adviser and partner to clients across industries, and has a unique understanding of the driving forces of behavior, how profit and loss impact a company's sustainability, and how these variables interrelate.