Getting others on board

If you have a method of working that you think is superior to another way, and you want to encourage other people to get on board, then start with asking yourself why one way is superior to another. Look for the benefits that are a reward for using a different approach.

For example, if you think washing dishes by hand is superior to using a dishwasher, ask yourself why. Perhaps you’ve found that certain dishes are fragile and break in a dishwasher. Perhaps you’ve found that certain dishes don’t come out clean, maybe when peanut butter dries on the inside of a glass. In these cases you’re probably right to point out it’s better to wash the items by hand.

Organizationally, I’m thinking of any of the myriad of approaches that individuals espouse as best practices.

If you want someone else to pick up the good habit, perhaps you should analyze why you do it yourself. I’ve seen many people find one or two cases where an approach is superior and all of the sudden they apply it universally. All of the sudden they’re washing every dish by hand. And they’re desperate to force others to do the same.

It’s helpful to assess the benefits and see if your own application of the approach is reasonable. In doing so you might realize the conditions where washing dishes by hand is superior (in terms of cleanliness) but you’ll also realize that most of the time the dishwasher works just fine.

After you’ve identified the benefits, and perhaps some conditions, show those benefits to someone else. The benefits are the reward for doing things a different way. If there’s no reward (benefit) for doing something a different way, especially a way that requires more work, why in the world would you expect someone else to just hop on board?

The best you can hope for is someone that rinses all the dishes under hot water because they don’t feel like scrubbing hundreds of dishes by hand. You’ll end up in a worse situation. Compliance is always short-lived, when you’re not looking they’ll put things through the dishwasher. Or people find shortcuts, i.e.: rushing the process of washing dishes by hand.

If there is a substantial reward, demonstrate that reward to others. If that reward is in their interest as well, then the reward will resonate with them. For example, if someone has to rewash dishes that come out of the dishwasher dirty, they’ll probably prefer to just wash the troublesome dishes by hand to begin with instead of wasting time loading and unloading them from the dishwasher. No sane person will ignore a reward that is in their rational self interest.

By demonstrating the reward, you enable others to build their own habits. You can convey the situations in which an approach is helpful and when it’s not. That means others will know when there’s a reward and when there’s just extra work (a punishment). In both cases, they’ll learn to spot the cue that indicates that a different approach should be taken. They’ll look for the peanut butter crusted onto a glass, and they’ll watch for fragile dishes that they noticed often break inside the dishwasher.

Cues will lead to habits that make new approaches second nature.

There’s no other way to get people on board. It’s silly to use threat of force, unless of course your approach is not superior or it’s not in the best interest of the other party. In that case, the problem is with your own behavior, not someone else’s.