We all like to feel as though we belong, we’re one of the gang if you like, and it’s a useful little idea to remember at work when you want to achieve certain behavioural changes. Think of it as a bit of a pre-cursor to the stick and carrot phase. Some carefully placed ideas can lead to changes in people’s behaviours that can avoid the need for motivating carrots and scary sticks. It’s a concept called conformity and surprise surprise, it’s based upon our desire to belong.
When you’re a kid, you spend all of your life trying to be as much like your mates as you can then as you grow up you’re supposed to begin to think like an individual and of course, you did, didn’t you, or should that read didn’t you? I hate to be the one to point it out to you, but we’re much more like sheep than you probably want to think.
Think on this…..how much money would your business save if it could reduce its energy bill by a simple 10%? Don’t bother counting – the answer’s tons. Problem is a how do you do it? OK – insulate this, go green that and switch off the other and there’s your problem. You need people to change their behaviours so how do you do it?
The best way is to get them to convince themselves that they want to do it and the cleverest way to do that is to point out how successful everyone has been at turning of the lights. Create a real sense of community togetherness. Posters, newsletters, emails all pointing out the team has had some great success in reducing energy. The team has done this, the team has done that and of course the team has done the other, and before you realise it you’ll see that people will have changed their behaviours and adopted new habits because they need to belong to the team. Think on – it would be a very brave person who said to the team – I’m not going to turn the lights off. It’s all about identifying the behaviour and then communicating about how well we are all doing as a community modelling that behaviour.
If you want a cracking example of conformity elsewhere, think about attitudes towards drink driving. Once upon a time sinking six (pints or gins) and then driving home was a sign of a real man, someone to be admired for his ability to keep it together after a night out. Today, as our community’s attitude has shifted to one of drink driving being a real pariah act, Jack The Lad is far less likely to sink his six, simply because he wants to be part of the group that takes a stance against drink driving – that’s conformity for you. It’s called social change but there’re some would call it social engineering.