Five Stages of Behavioral Change: Part 5

In 1983,  Prochaska & DiClemente theorized that there was process of making behavioral change. This five step model was developed while evaluating how people changed from unhealthy to healthy behavior. From a safety standpoint, there are many similarities in how behavioral change is made. Safety is about choices and behaviors that come with a healthy approach to the workplace and risk.

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Stage 4: Action(currentaction)’
People at this stage have changed their behavior within the last 6 months and need to work hard to keep moving ahead. These participants need to learn how to strengthen their commitments to change and to fight urges to slip back.

People in this stage progress by being taught techniques for keeping up their commitments such as substituting activities related to the unhealthy behavior with positive ones, rewarding themselves for taking steps toward changing, and avoiding people and situations that tempt them to behave in unhealthy ways.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_model)

In the last post, the causal relationship of the Gemba (go and see) and communication was discussed.

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This is the phase where the change is new. The organization is working to create the new behaviors and culture. The work is to keep the team focused on the goal that has been set. The organization has to keep the team motivated and focused. Small wins have to be celebrated! When people do not see the benefit of the change, they will lose the motivation to continue.

Here is a real example that is near and dear to me. I make the decision to loose some weight through diet and exercise. After a couple of weeks of feeling tired and deprived, I step on the scale and see no change. Suddenly, the desire for a cheeseburger and milkshake is overwhelming.

Just in the example, it is our job to help keep the motivation flowing. This can be through peer-to-peer interactions, congratulatory meetings, or even through showing of some metrics that people may not have seen before.

In the example of the weight loss issue, maybe the focus should be to track blood pressure or resting heart rate to show that the body is changing. The single data point of weight lead me to believe that the process was ineffective or at least not worth the effort invested.

Safety cultural change is worth the investment. The injury rate may not immediately make a large difference, but are we really measuring the right metrics. How many observations helped eliminate hazards? How many safety work orders were completed? Are there annual cultural surveys that could be affected? Are people more willing to talk about issues openly with ideas of resolution? There are many ways to measure change in a way that helps keep the team motivated. The organization has to be committed to this new change or it will fall to wayside as another failed attempt. This is also why change has to be taken in small sections. It is hard to keep many programs fully motivated all at the same time.

Through many turnarounds and culture experiences in safety, I have an analogy to summarize how too many changes too fast can get out of control.

“It like spinning plates on poles, except you’re in maze”

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There are many changes coming: once we get one going, we forget where the ones were before and we are not sure which ones are coming next.

The ultimate goal of this phase is motivation:

The change is worth it!

We can do it!

We are willing to invest fully in this change!

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