Understanding Behaviours Allows us to Drive Change

“The Infrastructure Leadership Team at Osborne recognised that the business had to create a step change in culture to make the working environment attractive and safe for ALL; and a decision was taken to invest significantly in helping us all to better understand why people behave the way they do, and to create a more respectful, inclusive and safer workplace that in-turn would enhance our business performance.  The outcome is a growing and impactful “STOP Think!” Programme.
The business made a clear commitment, having now invested over £400,000 to research, develop and implement a programme to create a fair, inclusive and respectful workplace.  Through this programme we highlight that our ability to succeed is most significantly influenced by personal behaviours.  Behaviour is in essence everything we say and do.  But our outward behaviour towards others is simply the tip of the iceberg.  The STOP Think! approach focuses on developing a much deeper understanding of how and why we make the choices we do and how those choices impact those around us.

An initial period of research looked at options for the programme, in conjunction with exploratory engagement and module testing with representatives of our target audience of customers, suppliers and Osborne people.

The programme relies heavily on research advances in coaching and personal behaviours, the way our mind recalls the experiences we are exposed to and influences the choices we make for the future.  It acknowledges the subconscious routines that make up our habits and reactions in engagement with others.  By helping us to understand the origins and drivers of our emotions, attitudes, beliefs and conditioning, the programme teaches us the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind and lends itself naturally to embracing fairness, inclusion and respect.  It teaches us all to “stop and think” before we react and influences our engagement with others.

The programme has touched many levels in the working community including business leaders from customers and suppliers and the workforce, engaged across a range of activities including:-

• Leaders Days – to ensure all our leaders were aligned and committed to adopting the right mind-set and leading by example.
• Launch Days – aimed at establishing beliefs and behaviours to drive the cultural change and the mind-set demanded of all for success.
• Coaching Skills Modules – for those individuals who aspired to go further.
• Business Coaches Modules – Specialist positions designed to maintain the momentum of the programme, drive continuous improvement and support colleagues in applying their coaching skills into the workplace.

Engagement in the programme has been overwhelming, even for a learning organisation like Osborne, with over 1200 people attending a “Launch Day,” over 200 of those progressing through coaching skills, and 80 business coaches now deployed.  Further investment commitment has been made and modules continue to be delivered to our customers and suppliers.  Whilst initially created and piloted across the Infrastructure Business it has been very easy to transfer and scale up the programme both inside and outside our business.  The programme rollout within our Construction Business is now well underway and specific sessions are being delivered into Highways England and Network Rail organisations at their request.

The programme is complemented by a STOP Think! monthly publication which last year alone received in excess of 192,000 page views.  This publically available platform is utilised to further reinforce FIR initiatives such as the FIR Toolkits, Everyone Week, Interfaith Week, End the Awkward, and FIR training films.

So what is coming out the other end of this significant learning investment? Our people are learning to be more considerate, to think differently, make better decisions and change lives by consciously considering how they behave.
With this increased awareness and understanding of why we say and act the way we do, our people are pulling STOP Think! language into their everyday conversations.  People feel better equipped, more confident and therefore more empowered and personally accountable not to walk by and feel prepared to have those difficult conversations.

The key that unlocked the change was to recognise that we needed to move away from what we’ve done in the past. Telling people what they should do and even why they need to do it isn’t enough. To change behaviour and habits you have to really understand what drives them.”

Richard King is a Director at Osborne.