Social Learning startup-593344

How Social Learning Leads To Lasting Organizational Change

A large part of shifting organizational behavior is understanding human psychology and its effect on change management. Vital Smarts’ 2011 book “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler outlined a matrix of six sources of influence that must be present for lasting change. The authors cited research that 85% of efforts to drive new behavior in organizations fail, and they wanted to understand what factors led to positive outcomes. In an interview with sales specialist Ken Krogue, co-author David Maxfield explains, “There are two forces at play here. Those things like technology, tools, and skills are above the water line. You can see them. But then there is everything below the water line: The cultural norms, what people do, the internal politics, the things you have to do to get things done. Change stops when it hits the iceberg below the waterline.”

The team’s research provided valuable insight on why social learning is so effective in shifting organizational behavior, especially in team-based settings. The premise is that change requires a combination of internal and external forces working in conjunction to be successful. This means that aligning the goals of the individual, the team and the organization are all necessary before rolling out new policies and procedures.

Let me walk you through how social learning can harness the six sources of influence to improve the outcomes of your Human Resource programs:

Personal Motivation and Ability

Personal motivation and ability takes a direct look and an individual’s level of expertise and the reasons they will or won’t invest time to improve their skills. Often people know they should stay current in their career skills, but they don’t make the time because it’s viewed as inconvenient or challenging. Social learning systems provide a simple framework for team members to benchmark themselves against their colleagues and set actionable plans for their own improvement. This system also take the guesswork out of identifying colleagues that have experience in the areas the team members plans to improve. Social learning systems make it easy for team members to take initiative in managing their career expertise.

Social Motivation and Ability

Social motivation and ability considers an individual’s peer group to understand if they’re surrounded by a team that strives for excellence or distractors that enable poor performance. For example, how would the team react if a project was in danger of missing a major milestone due to an individual’s lack of training. A successful team would evaluate the resources available and re-assign tasks to get the schedule back on track. Social learning systems help teams pool their resources to work towards a common goal. They also provide a platform for informal training throughout a project’s term so teams can address skill gaps as they arise. Providing a system for teams to encourage each other and share skills and expertise is an important indicator of the ability to produce lasting changes in your organization.

Structural Motivation and Ability

Structural motivation and ability makes sure your organization has the correct incentives or consequences to support lasting change. This is the area where your Human Resources team has the most influence. Building a company culture that rewards learning and process improvement increases the likelihood of success for future programs. Social learning systems make training a seamless part of your team’s daily experience, and your human resources team can easily build an incentive plan to encourage participation. Rewarding team members that invest in their career skills is a powerful motivator, and removing roadblocks such as time constraints or manager approvals sets your teams up for lasting success.

The research shared in Vital Smarts’ book “Change Anything” found that individuals using the six sources of influence are 10 times more likely to change and create change. that your Human Resources programs will create lasting change within your organization. By identifying the personal, social and structural barriers within your firm, you’ll unlock the potential for your Human Resources programs to create lasting change within your organization. Social learning systems are an important tool for aligning the goals of the individual, the team and the organization. Building a company culture where learning is encouraged and readily available is a strong indicator of the future success of your firm.