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The new normal isn't really normal

At a time when social distance is the norm, we are asked to move away from our normal, instinctual behavior. Something that is called a new normal but is actually far from normal.

Changing behavior isn't really normal and even a huge challenge. It is not without reason that we see time and again that people revert to their old behavior.

To really change behavior, we have to consider both the motivation and the ability of people to change it. These 2 things also have 3 dimensions; Personal, Social and Structural. 

To change behavior, you need to create at least 4 of these 6 scenarios to successfully implement change. This Youtube video explains it more clearly.


When creating a "new" or "temporary" normal in the workplace, we will therefore also have to think about how we influence both motivation and the ability of people. Simply drawing up guidelines and rules will not be enough, as the experiment in the video proves.

How can you reward people? How do you ensure that the environment is also designed in such a way that it contributes to change? How do you help people to go through the change successfully? Is the need clear to everyone, both for people personally and for the company?

The answers to these questions are sometimes very simple, but can also be very difficult. In any case, we help customers to become aware of these questions and help where we can to find the answers.


Personal motivation

Questions to ask yourself:

  • If my employees are alone, would they choose the desired behavior?
  • Do they like the new situation or not at all?
  • Do they understand the use of the new behavior?
  • Does it fit with who they are or who they want to be?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Identify things that have negative effects and remove them or turn them into something positive.
  • Try to link the need for change to the core values of the people.
  • Make sure that the change has a clear end goal that people understand so that they are motivated to change.
  • Spend time and energy to get people to buy-in personally instead of just talking to the group.
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Personal ability

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do employees have the knowledge, skills and strengths to do the right thing?
  • Are the employees able to independently cope with the most difficult challenges that will come (or are expected)?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Make sure people are guided and get feedback to be able to develop themselves.
  • Provide a learning environment that helps people deal with emotional or (inter) personal obstacles that they may encounter.
  • Provide simulations and role plays that map out how people can deal with the new circumstances.

Social motivation

Questions to ask yourself:

  • To what extent do people encourage each other to show the right behavior or to what extent is misbehavior discouraged?
  • What is the relationship between the people who influence each other?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Make sure you position the right leaders as role models, coaches, supporters or trainers to change.
  • Everyone in management must have a role towards the new behavior.
  • Identify which people will be most concerned about the change and involve them early on.
  • Make sure senior management clearly supports and has elaborated the change.
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Social ability

Questions to ask yourself:

  • To what extent do people help, inform or provide each other with the necessary means to remove any obstacles?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Use mentors or coaches to help people when needed.
  • Identify the most difficult obstacles to change and make sure people know clearly who to turn to for help in those situations.
  • Make sure there is a safe and trusted environment for people when they ask for help. Avoid that people become afraid to ask questions.
  • Make sure everyone has the authorization, information and resources to easily master the new behavior.
Structurele motivatie

Structural motivation

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do we reward the new behavior, both financially and in assessments?
  • What costs are associated with the change?
  • Do the rewards reward the right behavior and discourage the old behavior?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Provide incentives that reward the desired behavior.
  • Identify how the new behavior contributes to achieving their goals.
  • Make sure you make it clear that this is not an optional change.
  • Make it clear that everyone, including senior management, must embrace the changes and anyone who does not will be addressed, regardless of position.
Structureel vermogen

Structural ability

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the work environment designed in such a way in terms of tools, facilities, information, processes, etc. that it stimulates the right behavior?
  • Have enough moments been planned to remind people of the steps that are (and should be) taken?

Points of attention to influence this:

  • Reorganize workplaces in such a way that change is easy to implement.
  • People provide the right software, hardware or other means to implement change easily and / or automatically.
  • Provide sufficient and regular communication about the change so that it remains top of mind for everyone.
  • Make sure there is an easy way to educate managers at all levels about how successful or unsuccessful the change is in their department.

Read more about how we can assist you during Covid-19 here.

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