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Blogging on how to use behavioural science to make behaviour more likely

Removing invisible barriers to unlock performance

July 10, 2019

4 min read:  A manager wanted her team to regularly post on social media to promote their exhibitions, in order to increase the number of visitors to their venue.

 

No matter how or who she asked, she could not get them to do this and assumed that the team just couldn’t be bothered or were avoiding social media.  The Manager was getting frustrated at always having to make the posts herself, which was just one more task on a very long list of things to do.

 

She asked the team member most likely to give her feedback, just why it was that the team were reluctant to post, expecting to hear that they were too busy or what was the point, etc. However, she was really surprised with the feedback she got.

 

It turns out that there were so many barriers in the way of actually making a post that most people who had tried, promptly gave up and didn’t bother again.  They also knew that she would step in to post 

 

at the last minute anyway, so this just reinforced the situation.

 

Firstly, there was a problem connecting their tablets to the work Wi-Fi. when trying to post on Facebook. The Wi-Fi at their venue was child friendly and so blocked the connection to any social media sites, but none of the team knew that.

 

Secondly, staff were concerned about what was appropriate to post in a work environment and worried about what might happen if they got that wrong.  They were also concerned about whether posts would even be interesting to the general public and so were often stuck with what to write about.

 

The Manager realised that she needed to make it as easy as possible for these creative and talented people to express themselves and share the good work they had been doing.  

 

She set about removing all of the technical barriers, by discussing the issue with their IT provider, they found an alternative way to securely connect to social media without impacting on the general Wi-Fi access.  She set up a Pages Manager account so that the staff could remain anonymous on social media as individuals and created one-time sign in’s for Instagram and Twitter, so that it made posting easy.

 

Next, she got the team together to brainstorm content that they could include, looking ahead into the calendar of events that they had coming up for the year.

 

The team made a commitment to start writing posts and she crossed her fingers.

 

At first the posts came as the odd one or two, and she made sure that she liked them and shared them with others.  This turned into a trickle and she pulled together a graph showing the data for the weekly community reach and interactions, something very important to her staff, and displayed it each week.

 

Then the unexpected happened.  The number of posts started to increase as the staff started to get dozens of likes and hundreds of followers.  Not only did the number of posts grow, but the amount of creative thought and fun that they put into each post also increased as they looked for more and more opportunities to reach their community to show off their work.  

 

An activity which was originally seen as just something difficult and painful, had become self-reinforcing and there were celebrations all round when their followers reached 600, just 8 weeks after they had started posting in earnest.

 

The lesson the Manager learned was not to make assumptions about the reasons why people don’t do what you want them to do and instead ask the question.  Many barriers to getting behaviour started can be small, but the tiny amount of extra effort required to overcome them can seem like a mountain to climb.  Remove the barriers one by one and see what happens.

 

andrea@geelox.co.uk

 

 

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