How you influence human behaviour in services June 26, 2018 – Posted in: Service Management – Tags: , ,

Services are all about the people delivering them – I wrote so much in my book Service Management:It’s all about the People. However, how do you make sure the people in your organisation are doing the right thing for the customers and users of your service?

There are different perspectives on this: at least one that is popular, but doesn’t work, and one that is fairly unknown, but does work.

The one that doesn’t work but is popular among many authors writing books on service management, is known as Organisational Behaviour Management or OBM. This is in fact a revamping of the old carrot-and-stick method, where you present a stimulus to a person, for instance a reward in the form of salary or a bonus (the carrot), who will then do the right thing to obtain that reward. Alternatively, you present him with a punishment, such as a demotion (the stick), to avoid that person doing something you don’t want him to do. This is all based on classic Behaviourism, mostly known by one of its proponents, B.F. Skinner.

It turns out, however, that Behaviourism doesn’t work for today’s workforce. In fact, it only works for extremely procedural work and not for any job that has a creative component to it. So for today’s highly-educated workforce, we need to find something else to drive their behaviour.

That “something else” can be explained through my Integral Service Management Framework (ISMF) shown above. As a one-line summary, the ISMF shows four basic perspectives on Service Management, consisting of individual aspects, group aspects, each with their internal and external aspects. A somewhat longer introduction to the ISMF is available (in three languages) in the book A Quick Guide to the Integral Service Management Framework.

If you look at the upper half of the picture, you see Behaviour on the right hand side, for this is something individual that can be observed externally. The model is one integral whole, though, meaning that each part of the model has an influence on other parts. In the case of individual behaviour, the aspect that has most influence is a person’s attitude, which is mostly driven by motivation. Attitude is positioned on the upper left side of the model, meaning that it is an individual aspect that can only be observed internally, or by the person himself.

The way in which motivation and attitude drive behaviour is as follows: a person needs to have the right attitude first before he is willing to do the right thing. This requires a level of motivation that is not driven by external factors (such as carrots and sticks), but by internal factors: what’s the purpose, how can I become a master in what I am doing, and do I get my desired level of autonomy in what I am doing. These are entirely different things than external rewards and punishments, but they are the things that highly-skilled professionals and especially Millenials are looking for.

So how do we motivate these people? By making sure they have a job that provides them with intrinsic motivation: something they love doing, that gives them autonomy, purpose and personal development. Only when people find intrinsic motivation in their jobs will they perform at their best capabilities.

Dolf van der Haven is the author of Service Management: it’s all about the people; A Quick Guide to the Integral Service Management Framework and A Guide to ISO/IEC 38500:2015 Governance of IT. All available on

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