The challenges leaders face nowadays is how to gain and sustain the competitive edge. Most businesses strive to introduce new technological advancements. These only provide organisations with a competitive advantage for as long as it takes their competitors to catch up. What then?

In most businesses, their staff has a latent potential yet to be discovered. Leaders with foresight have the opportunity to gain the competitive advantage by unleashing this potential.

Improving staff performance begins by understanding what Automatic Behaviour Responses (ABR’s) are,  and how they are derived through Unwritten Ground Rules (UGR’s). By decreasing these negative UGR’s significant gains in staff performance can be achieved at minimal cost.

ABR’s are the foundation of corporate culture makeup. With an understanding where they originate and how they can be changed, you will be able to use them to improve staff performance in productivity, quality of work, customer relations, services and safer working practices etc.

By understanding how to identify Automatic Behaviour Responses and how to change or introduce new ABR’s, negative ABR’s can be eliminated and positive ABR’s introduced.

A recent survey illustrates the potential impact that Unwritten Ground Rules can have on a business.  The following results below reveal how much underlying potential exists within staff. (Survey conducted by Steve Simpson and Steff Du Plessis)

  • 91% of managers interviewed thought there would be a 20% or more improvement in productivity if the culture of the organisation was realistically improved.
  • 58% of non-managers thought there would be a 50% or more improvement in productivity if the culture was realistically improved.

What these results tell is that both senior managers and non-managers understand the potential gains that can be realised if the culture of the workplace is to be realistically improved.


Employee’s behaviour is driven by their perceptions, which are derived from what they observe whilst at work. For example, they observe how their colleagues go about their work,  and what they do. How immediate bosses react and how they conduct themselves.

Staff behaviour is shaped by these observations, how they are treated, and how they are rewarded for what they do. After a while these observations are adopted.  Staff begin to apply them unknowingly through what is known as Automatic Behaviour Responses  (ABR’s). This is what determines the corporate culture and how it impacts on the employee’s general performance and productivity.

Some examples of negative Unwritten Ground Rules and why they are adopted:

  • “It is no use discussing problems. We have raised the same problem over and over again and nothing gets done. So I sit back and listen.”
  • “We always hear about the importance of working safely, but when we get into the workplace nobody does what we are taught. So why bother going against the stream?”
  • “No recognition for good work is ever given. The only time a boss speaks to me is when there is something he wants to add to my workload or tell me when something is wrong. So it makes no difference if I deliver good work or not.”
  • “Service is supposed to be so important to the company, but nobody practices good service, so why should I?”
  • “We are taught about following correct processes, but management shortcut things to save time. So I just follow.”
  • “It is job threatening to point out where things are wrong. The boss thinks you’re having a go at him, and we are shouted at. So I sit back and listen.”

Automatic Behaviour Response’s can be positive, neutral or negative.

The secret for successful implementation, sustaining and growing from a baseline, lies in the approach to implementation, methodology and application. Contact us now, or  please look out for our follow on publication.


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