Changing people’s behavior


I’m always amused when I see a field service manual that tells the reader how to behave. In such cases, the text instructs the field technician to do things like “dress properly” and “treat people at the site with respect”. I don’t know what planet the writers are from, but my experience has shown that the people who need this advice rarely read the instructions, let alone follow them.

This is sort of like putting a big reminder in the owner’s manual for a new car that says “Always fill up your tank when it gets to half-empty”. Do they really think the people who normally wait for the gas light to come on are going to heed this warning and change their behavior accordingly? I’d say the odds of that are slim.

So, before you cram this type of advice into your own documents, think about whether the people who practice the negative behavior are really going to change. Typically, it’s a lost cause, and including this text just insults the people who already know better.