Habits, Behaviors and Your 2017 Employee Development Strategy

To make your 2017 Employee Development Strategy a success, you need to get employees in the habit of paying attention to personal growth. 

In this blog you’ll learn from top thought leaders in the field of Human Habits and Behaviors about the science that makes habits stick. Along the way you’ll get some quick insights into ways you can use their research to make your 2017 Employee Development Strategy one your employees will get behind.

Charles Duhigg, Habits and BehaviorsWhy he’s interesting 

He ties it all together.

Charles focuses on more than just how habits drive business success. In his best selling book, and appearances on NPR’s This American Life, Charles makes it clear that whether you want to finally get a six pack, sharpen your piano skills, or make a boatload of money, it all starts with good habits.

Favorite Takeaway

Keystone Habits

Keystone Habits and Behaviors

Once you read this all too familiar example, you’ll wonder why Charles Duhigg’s Keystone Habits concept wasn’t obvious before.

Even with the best intentions, it can be a struggle to get in the habit of a healthy diet. In an effort to make it stick, you come across an article about Keystone Habits.

That’s when it becomes painfully obvious. An early wake up is the keystone to a healthy diet!

Those 30 extra minutes in the morning make all the difference. Now you have time to prepare breakfast. With a good meal in the tank, you get to the office ready to tackle the day. By 5PM you still have the energy to hit the gym. Suddenly the thought of junk food seems like a distant memory. Exhausted from a productive day you whip together a quick dinner and go to bed early, leaving yourself in an even better place to wake up tomorrow.

Keystone Habits are just the tip of the iceberg. To get the full scoop, check out Chuck’s book, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.  While you’re at it, make sure to follow Charles Duhigg on Twitter.

James Clear, Habits and BehaviorsWhy he’s interesting

He’s his own guinea pig.

James tests what he learns on himself first. In his own words, his work is so engaging because, “it ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment.”

Favorite Takeaway

The Three Rs of Habit Change

Habit Loops

Just like Keystone Habits, James Clear’s “Three Rs of Habit Change” give you a no-duh method for changing or building new habits. Using the Keystone Habits example as reference, here’s how it works.

3 Rs of Habit Formations

  • It all starts with a Reminder, like your alarm clock reminding you to get up
  • Then there’s the Routine. You know, actually getting out of bed
  • Now you need a Reward. Enough time to make a delicious breakfast

 Positive rewards reinforce the process and motivate you to do it all again tomorrow.

How does James’ 3 R concept apply to your Learning and Development strategy?

What clever ways can you think to:

  • Remind employees to take the time to learn
  • Get employees in the routine of personal development
  • And reward them for their efforts?   

You can find hundreds of well written articles and stories about James’ adventures in habit building on his blog and Twitter.

Nir Eyal, Habits and Behaviors

Why he’s interesting 

Backs his research with personal investment.

When he isn’t tearing through neuroscience research, authoring bestselling books or teaching at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design, Nir uses his own money to literally invest what he knows about habits in companies that build products he knows will stick.

Favorite Takeaway

 3 Pillars of the Most Successful Tech Products

Habits and Behaviors

Nir uses the acronym GEM to describe, you guessed it, The 3 Pillars of Successful Tech Products.

Nir pairs a question and a metric with each pillar to make it easy for anyone to gauge how well they’re building each pillar of a sticky product.

Heads up! Nir is focused on what makes products stick. That doesn’t mean the same concepts don’t apply to your Employee Development Strategy. After all, your employee development strategy is your product.

To show you what I mean, I rewrote each question and metric in bold so it’s easy to see how each relate to Employee Development.

Pillar Question to Ask Metric of Success
  • Are we getting better at drawing the interest of the people who need our product?
  • Are we getting better at getting people interested in Employee Development?
  • New users or customers and the cost of finding them
  • # of employees who participate in development opportunities
  • Are we getting better at engaging the people who need our product?
  • Are employees returning to and completing training programs?
  • Percentage of retained users or customers
  • Percentage of employees who complete training modules
  • Are we getting better at capturing the value we create?
  • Are we seeing positive increases in employee metrics?
  • Profit
  • Turnover rate, business unit performance, onboarding time, employee engagement scores

There’s a lot of fascinating insights into what makes things stick on his blog. And of course, make sure to follow Nir Eyal on Twitter.

Tying it all together

Even though these experts have almost nothing to do with formal Employee Development, there’s an infinite number of ways to apply their work.

Good habits don’t just happen. That means, no matter how badly you want to drive employee development, it will never stick unless you make it a habit.

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