From awareness to behaviour change

January 18, 2022

A common challenge for L&D departments is being seen as content creators - converting content that you’re given into an interactive experience. Instead, we encourage you to act as performance consultants. That means designing interactive content to change behaviours and achieve a specific business goal

This shift in mindset pays off. Your learning programs will have more impact and the c-suite will get excited about what you and your team can do for the organisation. 

Here’s how to get started…

Think like a scientist

Understanding the science of human behaviour can help guide you as you focus on behaviour change. The more you understand things like motivation, memory and action, the more able you will be to affect them through learning experiences. 

We’ve done the reading for you and boiled down some key behavioural insights, plus tips on how to use them, in our whitepaper. Download it for free here.

Expert studies and research give you important insights, but remember their limitations. Results are based on a particular group studied at a particular time in a particular environment. What they lack is your workplace context and the complex array of influencing factors that come with it. The culture, identity, habits and stresses we experience at work can affect how effective certain behavioural nudges may be.

Do your own research to understand your audience, then treat expert studies and ideas as intriguing theories to test with your audience in your environment. 

Understand your audience with data

As an HR or L&D team rooted within an organisation, your colleagues and peers are your audience. You’re likely to have a solid understanding of their working environment, motivations, and perhaps even what they think of learning programmes they’ve participated in over the years. 

Beware of your own biases here (we all have them!). Don’t let assumptions be the foundation of your learning design. Gather the data you need to test them. Try:

  • An annual anonymous learning survey
  • Interviews with a few learners from different parts of the business (avoiding leading questions!)
  • Focus groups for specific learning programmes

Use the insights you gain to create evidence-based personas that you can refer to each time to start the learning design process and consider various behavioural insights.

How to identify behaviours

When you know whose behaviours you’re trying to affect, it’s time to get clear on what those behaviours actually are. For each piece of learning, which behaviours do you plan to stop, start or continue? 

Behavioural science can’t help you much with awareness, understanding or knowledge, but you can leverage it to impact what learners do with the knowledge. This is what matters!

Be clear about your goal

Each learning experience you create should have a clear goal; a measurable impact it’s trying to have on business metrics. Learning experiences take time for you to create, for SMEs to input into and for learners to work through. If it doesn’t meet a clear goal, you’re creating tick box exercises. Get clear on this goal to start with.

Identify ideal behaviours

Now you know your goal, nail down what learners need to be doing to achieve it. 

Remember, knowledge is not the same as moving someone to take action. We all know things that we could do to be more healthy — but how often do we do them? 

To get started on the right track, ask:

  • What do learners need to do with this information?
  • What should learners do differently after completing the elearning?
  • Who doesn’t need this elearning and why? What is it that they’re already doing right? 

What’s blocking ideal behaviours?

With ideal behaviours to aim for, take a moment to interrogate why they’re not currently happening. It’s easy to assume that it’s a lack of knowledge, but that’s not always the case. Could it be:

  • Motivation?
  • Time?
  • A misunderstanding?
  • A lack of knowledge?
  • Competing factors / goals?

With a confident understanding of the behaviours you’re trying to affect and why they’re not currently happening, you’re ready to arm yourself with behavioural insights that will help you get there. 

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