Ever wondered why our jobs feel so hard at times? Ever wondered why those pesky customers won’t buy our products? Or why our employees won’t report safety incidents? Or why journalists won’t write nice things about us?
Well, it turns out that changing stakeholder behaviors is hard – it can be really, really hard! And the reason is that humans (even if it might be hard to classify your very toughest stakeholders as such) aren’t wholly rational beings. Bizarrely, we don’t necessarily make decisions that are in the best interests of our companies, or ourselves: customers don’t always buy the best products; factory workers don’t always wear their hard hats; and office workers don’t necessarily comply with IT security policies – even though they know they should.
Armed with the latest research from the field of behavioral psychology (not the snore-fest you might expect, actually!), CEC can tell you why!
1. Awareness alone isn’t enough to drive behavior change: Most Comms collateral focuses on making stakeholders aware of the right path. For instance, take workplace safety – we’ve heard of comms teams sticking new safety posters on top of old safety posters… in actual fact, staff knew the “right” behaviors, but weren’t doing them. Why not?
- CEC members: Learn more about CEC’s latest work on influencing stakeholder behaviors here.
2. Environmental and social factors are equally important: People have a tendency to conform to the behaviors that are normal in their immediate circle – known as social proofing. Similarly, environmental factors can inhibit desired behaviors – these can include anything from non-verbal signals from a manager, to the time, money, and resources available to stakeholders to exhibit a specific behavior.
- CEC members: Learn more about the factors influencing stakeholder behaviors here
3. We’re subject to biases and heuristics: heur-what? If you want to show off at your next dinner party, ‘biases’ and ‘heuristics’ are the mental shortcuts that evolution has led our brains to take. For instance, we often prioritize short term gain at the expense of a greater long term benefit (“hyperbolic discounting”, if you really want to be really insufferable at your dinner party). Or, we have a tendency to resist change from what we know (status quo bias).
CEC members: Learn more about biases and heuristics here