At Walking the Talk, we frequently encounter a challenging and intriguing question from our clients: How can behaviour change be effectively measured? Organisations investing in culture change management programs are understandably eager to understand when and how they can gauge the progress of their initiatives.
In this blog post, we explore practical methods for measuring behaviour change within your company culture.
One commonly employed approach resembles the usage of devices like Fitbit. By monitoring and quantifying physical activity, such as the number of steps taken daily, individuals gain insights into their habits. This act of measurement not only reinforces behaviour but also facilitates its improvement.
Similarly, smartphones can track sleep patterns, allowing users to identify areas for behavioural adjustment. For example: by analysing the data and realising that you go to bed far too late, you are able to change your behaviour.
Devices such as Fitbit and our smartphones offer a simple way of measuring physical activity, and because the change is measured by a device, you can be sure it is a true reflection of reality.
While tracking physical activity is relatively straightforward, measuring behavioural changes within the workplace becomes more complex. There are two main “views” of behaviour change that can be measured: self-view, and others’ view.
The self-view method involves surveying individuals and requesting self-evaluations of their own behaviour. This can be done using simple pulse survey tools, either across the whole population or a sample group. For instance, questions such as “I do what I say I will do”, or “I systematically share new information with interested stakeholders”, measured on a sliding scale.
By conducting the pulse survey on a regular basis, you will be measuring the change in behaviour. This method is simple, but can present issues regarding the accuracy of self-assessments. How can you be sure that people are self-evaluating honestly? Is anything in the environment influencing their self-perception? If the self-assessment is linked to performance management, the results may be biassed. Therefore, combining self-view data with feedback from others can offer valuable insights.
The difference between self-assessment and how others perceive your behaviour is telling, and it can validate or invalidate how you perceive your own behaviour. So how do you measure others’ view?
This method is the most reliable way of measuring behaviour change in organisations. Surveys with employees, customers, the community or other stakeholders can measure how they see the values and behaviour of the organisation. Public recognition through awards or league tables can also provide valuable indications.
However, the most commonly used tool is a pulse survey such as a 360 degree feedback tool. This approach involves assessing a small number of behaviours by the individual, their reports, peers, and manager.
To be a valid measure of the change, only the viewpoints of others such as reports or peers, excluding the self-view, should be considered. Many of our clients build a culture index based on “others’ view” of their target behaviours. There are several ways of calculating this index: the first one is a straight average of the scores for all behaviours and all staff; the second one is an NPS-type calculation in which you subtract the percentage of those who disagree to the percentage of those who agree they are seeing the behaviour.
You can choose to calculate this index for the whole population, or by cohort. A good leading indicator of behaviour change is to measure the index over time for the leadership population. If behaviour is changing in leaders, their reports and levels below will eventually follow because of the shadow they cast. This can help you steer the business towards the tipping point for change.
The most important key success factor in measuring change is to choose behaviours that are observable and measurable. For example, instead of statements such as “I respect others”, opt for specific actions such as “I listen without interrupting”, or “I always ask a question before stating my opinion”. This is because others need to see the behaviour unequivocally to be able to give reliable feedback.
To produce the business outcomes you are looking for, target behaviours must be applied consistently, over time. This is what truly makes cultural change effective and sustainable.
Measuring behaviour change in company culture is a challenging yet crucial aspect of culture change management. By employing methods such as tracking activity, conducting self-view surveys, and seeking others' perspectives, organsations can gain valuable insights into the progress of their initiatives. By selecting observable and measurable behaviours and ensuring their consistent application, company cultural change becomes not only possible but also sustainable in the long run.
For insights on culture view our selection of case studies, ebooks, reports and white papers or contact us to learn how we can transform your culture.