How to Get People to WANT to Take Action

People WANT to Take ActionOver the last several years, I’ve been very fortunate to instruct leadership classes onsite at one of Southern California’s major defence contractors. Like any defence organization, the constant security of their facilities, knowledge, and expertise is of critical concern to both them and the government. As such, the security folks at the facility are continually in search of effective ways to remind employees of the everyday importance of security procedures.

I’ve seen many efforts in the past to remind employees to stay vigilant about security…some of which sent a memorable message, and some which did not. Yet, the best example of an effective message came just last week.

I was walking into the room where I normally teach and was struck by a sign outside the wall. The large sign posed a simple question to the passerby: “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you ignore security procedures?”

Below the question was a large picture of a flag-draped coffin.

Informing people about what they are supposed to do is step #1. Many leaders understand this part and do it well. What is often missed is the next step, which is a strong call to action as to why people should WANT to take the action you recommend. I know for me, if there isn’t also an emotional call along with the logical argument, the information gets buried with the thousands of other messages.

Do you need people to take action? If so, what can you say that will get them to WANT to follow your advice? Appeal to people’s higher motives, and you’ll get enthusiastic cooperation instead of mere compliance.

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