March 10, 2020

93: How Behavioral Psychology Makes You a Better Manager with Matt Wallaert

Behavioral psychology has typically been used to help therapists provide effective counseling and designers build better products. But we all can benefit from insights about how our brains work. When we apply these lessons to our own work, we can positively impact our teams and our organizations.

Matt Wallaert is a behavioral scientist working at the intersection of technology and human behavior. A multi-exit entrepreneur and product expert, he is passionate about focusing on behavior as the outcome of everything we build. He is the author of Start at the End: How to build products that create change and no matter where he is, Matt will be in cowboy boots and gesturing wildly.

Matt and I talk about behavioral psychology and what happens when you think about management as a service, how to use promoting and inhibiting pressures to guide behavior and create an ideal environment, how to set objectives and run pilots to measure process and outcomes, and gather learnings and so much more.

Read the related blog article: Try These Behavioral Science Strategies For Managing Team Behavior

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  • It’s difficult to manage people if you haven’t articulated what behaviors are desired and why.
  • Promoting pressures make something easier and more likely, while inhibiting pressures make something harder and less likely. As a manager, you can influence behavior by designing promoting and inhibiting pressures.
  • Develop yourself and others to have both deep expertise and broad interests. Spend time learning in your area of specialty and learning in a wide variety of topics even if they’re unrelated to work.
  • Collaborate with your team to design tests or experiments for how you make the experience at work better. Be clear about the outcomes the team is responsible for to ensure the experiments support the outcome achievement.
  • Reflect on the experiments and iterate based on the learnings.
  • Use both outcome goals and process goals. Outcome goals describe the final state or achievement while process goals describe actions you take.
  • Measure performance based on outcome goals. Use process goals to help you understand why outcomes are being achieved (or not).
  • Write a behavioral statement that explains the behavior you desire for which population under what circumstances (motivation and limitations).
  • Teams struggle to work with other teams when it’s unclear where the boundaries are and who is responsible for what. A behavioral statement can make it easier for everyone to understand your team’s role.
  • Good standardized processes open up creativity and enable greater autonomy. It reduces the cognitive load on your brain and allows your mental energy to be focused on the important and valuable topics.


Twitter: @mattwallaert

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