Warm words and actions


Be kind, be considerate, provide warm words and actions to see positive results. It is not rocket science. Influencing behaviours positively brings results.

At PAEM we always seek to learn from and celebrate the knowledge and expertise of professional people and organisations. It makes us more valuable to our corporate clients. Sharing this wisdom spreads knowledge, in case it is new and may help your professional development. Credit to the McKinsey company for this insight into how to influence behaviour for the benefit of participants and sponsors – we believe it applies in all types of enterprise.

Influencing behaviours

“During a gathering of 150 senior executives at the McKinsey Executive Leadership Program in Australia, we put the concept of priming to the test. We prepared a nudging experiment for the audience before we introduced participants to the ideas around the predictable irrationality of humans and the unconscious biases we carry, as well as the nudging method.

We divided the executives into two groups. Each group was split into pairs, to develop ideas for the 2019 Program, for 10 minutes. The groups were equally talented and motivated, but each was instructed differently. We also changed their environments.

Group 1 received a warm, welcoming appeal: A blue paper “Hello!” greeting, the message of “We need your help” and ended with a “Thank you.” They were handed warm tea or coffee to drink and were encouraged to offer drinks to others too. These executives were asked to put individual ideas on post-it notes using coloured pencils.

Group 2 members received bureaucratic instructions, emphasizing to “Please adhere to these instructions during the session on ideation” and that “You should ensure you are properly hydrated during the session.” These executives were given white-lined paper to write ideas “clearly listed and numbered on the page.” They were served ice water.

The results: The positively primed Group 1 developed 70 completely new ideas that covered new territories, more than twice the 32 fresh ideas of Group 2, whose members mainly focused on structural or logistical improvements.

Based on the experiment and the different outcomes, we drew these key learnings:

• Even the most seasoned business professional can benefit from the positive effects of nudging, in our case “priming.”
• Small changes in stimuli/environment can lead to appreciable differences in outcomes, on records in our case, of a factor of 2x.
• Organizations are leaving potential insights and impact on the table by ignoring positive nudges and the differing environments and elements that can foster greater creativity.
• Priming is just one nudge that can influence behaviours. McKinsey maintains a database of 80-plus nudges and 150-plus interventions we can customize.

In a world where organizational innovation, creativity and agility are key to long-term performance, a unique approach to problem-solving is crucial for maintaining competitiveness in the future.”

To view the McKinsey story we are retelling please click here

Client services is king

PAEM client services revolve around communication, motivation, performance improvement, reward and recognition. The key points highlighted above show that McKinsey’s findings mirror the impact that we try to achieve for our clients. We believe that people react best to “positive strokes” and that there are many benefits that organisations derive from encouraging engagement and empowerment.

Leadership and consultation work hand in hand

Priming and nudging sound like highly technical and sophisticated management techniques. In simple terms, we know that keeping people informed, encouraging them to use their initiative and giving them a channel for feedback are all valuable in building trust and confidence. The company that combines leadership with consultation is likely to enjoy a high level of commitment and loyalty from their employees, channel partners and customers.

Bringing people together, as McKinsey do with their Executive Leadership Program, is a powerful way to share ideas and generate the energy to drive the organisation forward.

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