The Reality of Changing Someone's Behaviour

Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are and why other people, even from your own family, can be so different to you?

Last week I attended a fascinating workshop on Genetics and Contemporary Management at a National psychology conference in Brisbane. The presenter, Professor Timothy Judge, an eminent academic from the USA presented findings from studies on hundreds of thousands of twins separated since birth and raised apart. This research investigated whether people with the same genes had similar thinking patterns and behaviour.

Controversial findings

Professor Judge, a humble, quietly spoken man, was almost apologetic as he delivered the following controversial conclusion. The majority of who you and I are today, between 50% and 75%, was predetermined in our parent’s bedrooms before we were born. Not just our weight and how we look, but also, how we think and behave including many of our attitudes and beliefs. Amazingly only around 10% of who we are comes from our home environment while around 30% comes from the other experiences and people we encounter along life’s journey. Naturally this has implications for how we approach our work, or for a franchisee, how they run their business. It does appear that genetics has a big impact on the sort of work we like, whether we emerge as a leader, how stressed we get and, ultimately, how much we achieve and earn.

I bet this has you thinking. Does this mean we have little control over our lives and can blame our foibles on our gene pool?

What I take from these findings is that each of us has been given specific characteristics that may or may not work in our interests, depending on the situations we find ourselves in. The key is to match your strengths with your work environment. Also when trying to make conscious personal changes in our lives, we are likely to face strong resistance from invisible forces within that we don’t always understand. Therefore, if we want to change, it is important to have a strong sense of motivation, fueled by meaning and purpose. Just thinking that something is a good idea is unlikely to do the job!

Implications for good franchising practice

So what are the implications of this research for franchising? Here are two for starters.

  1. Given that franchisees are largely left to their own devices in running their businesses, sound selection practices are vital. While knowledge and skills are relatively easy to train, patterns of thinking such as optimism and attributes such as physical energy, work ethic, orderliness and enjoyment of networking are not. Identify the attributes that make the biggest difference to success in your franchise system and build these into your recruitment processes. Be realistic and do not try to turn “sows’ ears into silk purses”.
  2. Encourage franchisees to excel in areas of the business they do well, while ensuring they have people and systems around them to compensate for things they are not naturally good at. Help them to identify their strengths and recruit people that complement them. If there are no other staff, a partner or advisor with complementary skills can make a huge difference to success. Perhaps the important message here is to make the effort to really get to know someone well before bringing them into your franchise system, and encourage people to value and build on their natural strengths rather than trying to “fix” their deficiencies.

This research also highlights for me the value of franchise systems participating in our 2011 Franchisee Success Study, which seeks to identify the attributes that drive franchisee performance. Our goal is to help franchisors improve the effectiveness of their franchisee selection, training and support systems. While the study is now underway and the data is flooding in, there is still time to get on board. Click here to register your franchise system’s interest and we’ll get back to you with details on the numerous benefits for you and your franchisees.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan

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