• Structured for Success: Driving Employee Behaviors

Structured for Success: Driving Employee Behaviors


J. Chris White, Sr. Program Manager, DESE Research, Inc., Huntsville, AL, USA


Structure, Feedback, Systems





To me, leadership implies change. Management is about maintaining the current course of action and taking corrective measures when necessary to get back on track. Leadership, on the other hand, is all about changing from the current course of action and heading in a new direction. Consequently, leadership is fundamentally about changing the behaviors of the people in the organization. With leadership, the current set of behaviors has been deemed insufficient or undesirable (by whatever means) and a new set of behaviors is needed to achieve a new set of results.

From the field of system dynamics, we know that the structure of an organizational system gives rise to the behavior of this system over time and, ultimately, to its performance results. Structure guides behavior, and behavior generates results. Structure includes any and all interconnections among different entities and elements of the organizational system, such as policies, procedures, budget controls, financial incentives, hierarchies of authority, employee training, inventory management processes, hiring/firing processes, etc. Note that structure is not always external to a person. Policies, processes, organizational controls, etc. are examples of structures that are external to employees. However, there are many structures that are internal to a person that come into play, also, and the effective leader needs to understand these as well. External structures tend to operate by fear and very often when the external structure or control is removed, behavior reverts back to the original (undesired) behavior. Internal structures, such as motivation and belief systems, operate by choice. As a result, they are often stronger influencers of behavior than external structures and, thus, have a more permanent effect on changing behavior for an individual. This presentation will discuss the four common methods for driving employee behavior.