Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

311. Humanizing Rules: Unveiling the Human Side of Compliance, with Christian Hunt

Do you want people to be more likely to follow whatever rules, policies, or procedures you create? It’s time to make them more human. Understanding and empathizing with the perspectives of others plays a crucial role in effective rule adherence. Comprehending the dynamics of rules can lead to beneficial outcomes in various aspects of life, from lessening conflicts to fostering compliance within organizational settings. Those who understand and communicate the reasons behind their rules are more likely to gain cooperation from those affected. It also helps reduce misunderstanding and resistance, promoting a smoother and more efficient implementation of rules or policies.

Guest Christian Hunt, during his conversation with Melina Palmer, explained his thoughts on this matter, drawing on his experience as the founder of Human Risk, host of the Human Risk podcast and author of Humanizing Rules. Hunt believes that, to instill rule adherence, it is important to understand the perspectives of individuals subjected to those rules. He also iterated the need for effective communication, emphasizing that rules are more likely to be accepted and adhered to when individuals understand the rationale behind them. Christian introduces his HUMANS framework during the conversation, and shares interesting, real-world examples from transportation, Netflix, and more.

In this episode:

  • Understand the relevance of emotional intelligence and empathy in compliance with rules.
  • Acquire knowledge about the role of clear communication in improving rule compliance.
  • Analyze the issues linked with changing speed limits and the crucial role of enlightenment.
  • Appreciate the need to present regulatory efforts as advantageous and pertinent to the workforce.
  • Learn Christian’s HUMANS framework and how to start using it in your business.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
Melina Palmer introduces Christian Hunt, the founder of Human Risk, a company that specializes in using behavioral science to manage the risks of human decision-making. Christian shares his background in financial services and regulation, which led him to focus on the human side of compliance and ethics.

00:02:20 – Unique Perspective from Regulation to Compliance,
Christian discusses his unique experience of transitioning from a regulator to a compliance professional, allowing him to see both sides of the problem when he had to enforce his own rules (and realized they didn’t align properly). He emphasizes the importance of understanding the reasons behind rules and regulations in order to effectively manage them.

00:05:57 – Applying Behavioral Science to Ethics and Compliance,
Christian explains how his experience in risk and compliance led him to realize the relevance of behavioral science in influencing human decision-making. He shares his mission to help organizations use behavioral science to get the best out of their people while mitigating risks.

00:08:03 – Navigating “Weird” Rules,
Christian provides advice for individuals who find themselves dealing with rules that seem strange or unnecessary. He suggests understanding the reasons behind the rules and considering whether they serve a genuine purpose. Having a dialogue and presenting alternative perspectives can be helpful in managing such rules.

00:11:41 – Balancing Compliance with Dialogue,
Christian acknowledges that in tightly regulated industries, dialogue may not always be possible. However, for those who can engage in discussions, he emphasizes the importance of approaching the conversation with empathy and understanding of the other party’s perspective.

00:12:37 – Understanding the Fundamental Attribution Error,
Christian Hunt discusses the difficulty of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes and the tendency to blame others instead of seeking to understand their rationale. He emphasizes the importance of pausing and considering where others may be coming from in order to find better solutions.

00:13:30 – The Importance of Questioning What is Normal,
Christian highlights the concept of “normal” and how rules and expectations are often based on extreme, non-common examples. He shares a story about his train journey and the importance of understanding the rationale behind rules. He initially dismissed the need for bag labels, but a staff member explained that they were necessary in case of train evacuation. This experience taught him the importance of not making presumptions and considering the reasoning behind rules.

00:18:25 – Learning from Mistakes and the Dunning-Kruger Effect,
Christian discusses the Dunning-Kruger effect and admits to falling victim to it himself. He shares a story about a rule regarding variable speed limits on roads, where drivers often question the need to slow down. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing that rules are often in place for valid reasons, even if they may not be immediately apparent.

00:24:53 – The Frustration with Rules,
Christian discusses how rules can be frustrating when they are imposed due to the actions of others. He highlights the need for clear communication and understanding between authorities and the people being controlled.

00:25:49 – Societal Reasons for Rules,
Christian acknowledges that some rules are put in place for the greater good, such as slowing down traffic for the safety of elderly drivers. He emphasizes the importance of considering the rationale behind rules and whether they apply to specific subsets of the population.

00:26:39 – The Challenge of Communicating Rules,
Christian recognizes the challenge that authorities face in communicating the reasons behind certain rules. He believes that authorities should be more transparent and ethical in their communication, especially in democratic societies.

00:28:00 – The Employment Contract Fallacy,
Christian discusses the fallacy of relying solely on the employment contract as a reason for imposing rules. He argues that just because authorities have the power to enforce rules doesn’t mean they should, and they should consider the perspective of those being controlled.

00:31:02 – Differentiating Between Rules,
Christian explains the importance of distinguishing between rules that are irrecoverable (serious violations) and rules that are recoverable (less serious violations). He uses Netflix’s approach of focusing efforts on irrecoverable actions as an example of effective rule implementation.

00:37:23 – Understanding Requirements and Imposing Tasks,
The importance of understanding requirements and tasks from both the perspective of the person giving the task and the person receiving it. It is crucial to ensure that the person giving the task understands what they are asking for and the potential challenges involved. Imposing tasks without understanding can lead to frustration and inefficiency.

00:38:09 – Recognizing Risk and Impact on Employees,
It is essential to recognize the potential risks and impact of imposing tasks on employees. If a task is likely to be unhelpful and difficult for the employee to understand, it poses a higher risk. Employers should consider whether the benefits outweigh the potential negative impact on employee relationships and trust.

00:39:30 – Using Behavioral Science as a Design Tool,
Behavioral science can be used as a design or diagnostic tool to improve task implementation. If reality cannot be changed, the perception of a task can be altered through framing or breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Understanding the impact and finding ways to make tasks more user-friendly is crucial.

00:40:43 – The Pitfalls of Compliance Training,
Compliance training exercises often fall short in effectively teaching and assessing employee understanding. Testing employees on obscure information that is unlikely to be relevant to their job can lead to frustration and a sense of wasted time. Employers should reconsider the purpose and effectiveness of compliance training exercises.

00:49:38 – Introduction to Incentives,
Companies often use incentives, such as prize drawings, to encourage customers to fill out surveys. The same principle applies to employees in the workplace. Incentives can increase compliance and the quality of work.

00:50:22 – Importance of Incentives,
Incentives are crucial for tasks that require a high standard of work. If people don’t see the value in doing something, they are less likely to do it. Consider what’s in it for them as an individual and find ways to make tasks feel worth doing.

00:51:11 – Feasibility of Compliance,
Consider whether it is feasible for individuals to comply with a rule or task. If something is too difficult or requires significant effort, compliance is less likely. Make tasks easier to increase compliance.

00:52:02 – Acceptability of Rules,
Just because a rule can be imposed doesn’t mean it will be accepted. Consider whether employees find a rule acceptable based on their specific circumstances and employment. Overreach can lead to resistance.

00:53:44 – Social Proof and Normalcy,
The perception of what is normal and acceptable plays a role in compliance. Consider social proof and whether other people in similar circumstances are being asked to do the same thing. Make rules salient and relevant to increase compliance.

00:56:04 – Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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