Thought articles

How to get to the gym

Two of my friends have made resolutions to go to the gym regularly this year.

One of them, let’s say Sam, has been a member of a gym for two years but seldom attends as it’s too far from his route between home and work. He has committed to go more often this year.

The other, let’s say Lucy, has had exactly the same issue. She has now committed to clear targets, to improve her general fitness and to train for some competitive runs throughout the year. She has joined a different gym, closer to home. She has taken on a personal trainer who has designed an exercise routine which she enjoys and which will help her achieve her goals. Her trainer will meet her regularly throughout the year.

So, who stands the better chance of success?

Our experience of changing behaviours suggests that Lucy has taken some key steps that will give her a much higher chance of sticking to her resolution. In particular:

  • She is likely to be highly engaged in making this change as it is clearly linked to a wider set of personal goals
  • She has identified and removed some of the ‘blockers’ that might get in the way, for example by joining a different gym
  • She has developed a ‘solution’ that is relevant and practical and enjoyable
  • By setting up regular meetings with a personal trainer throughout the year she has put a programme in place to ‘embed’ the changes that she’s looking to achieve

Your business plans for next year probably require your teams and managers to behave differently in some way. Maybe to present a different proposition, or to engage differently with customers, or just to sell more effectively.

The same lessons will apply.

Changing behaviour is about much more than making commitments or just training new skills. Your people will need to be highly engaged and understand exactly what is happening, why and how it will benefit them. Barriers need to be identified and addressed. The ‘solution’ needs to be tailored and relevant. And, most importantly in our experience, there needs to be a programme in place to embed new behaviours and prevent people from drifting back to ‘old ways’.