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OneEasyWayToReduceUnproductiveBehaviorIt’s a familiar story. Soda taxes have also flopped in New York State and San Francisco. So far, only superliberal Berkeley, Calif., has succeeded in adopting such a measure over industry objections. The obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda companies are losing the war. Even as anti-obesity campaigners like Mr. Nutter have failed to pass taxes, they have accomplished something larger. In the course of the fight, they have reminded people that soda is not a very healthy product. They have echoed similar messages coming from public health researchers and others — and fundamentally changed the way Americans think about soda. The Decline Of Big Soda, New York Times, Oct 2 2015.

Sometimes the obvious most direct approach simply doesn’t work. Sometimes we try to think for people instead of letting them think for themselves.

Maybe, we might need to make a rule to limit or prohibit something. However, the first thing we should consider doing is reminding people about the undesired behavior and why we think it is undesirable. I’ve often been suprised at how well this worked.

The head of Human Resouces (HR) once called me and asked if a particular person on my team was critical. The reason was that HR had detected that person accessing pornography from their business PC. Company policy was to terminate anyone found doing this. I asked the HR director when did we last remind people not to do this kind of thing? She said at hiring but otherwise could not recall and there was no process in place to remind people periodically of what was allowed when using business PCs. I told her I would take care of it.

I sent out a bland reminder to my department that business equipment was for business use only, with a short list of allowable personal uses and a reminder to simply use good judgment if something was not on the list. I also told them that their PC usage was subject to appropriate use monitoring. I then had the individual in question’s supervisor talk to him about his transgression. Needless to say, he was incredibly embarrassed which I concluded was consequence enough. HR later told me that the incident of questionable site accesses all but disappeared in my department. We didn’t need to fire anyone. We only needed to remind people of best practices in order to get the desired habits.

Have you educated your team on the desired practices before deciding to implement coercive methods to bring about those behaviors?

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