Awareness is the essential first step in learning new behavior: without insight there is no prospect. Would you invest time and energy in changing your behavior when you see no reason to do so?
Awareness training is often used in the fields of safety, cybersecurity and compliance. Topics that you as an organization almost always have to deal with. However, it sometimes can be difficult for the employee to know how he or she can effectively deal with these types of problems. Especially considering the impact his or her behavior might have.
It is important to provide insight into the role and responsibilities of the employee in a particular situation. What can the employee do to contribute to a solution or to prevent potential risks?
The awareness process starts with learning to recognize situations in which certain behavior is expected. How does the employee know that he or she needs to be extra alert? In other words: what are the red flags to watch out for?
Perhaps the employee knows that it is important to report a data breach to a manager. However, he or she might not be aware that sending an email to the wrong addressee can also be seen as a data breach.
When teaching new behavior, it is often not about teaching the norms or rules, but more about explaining in which situations the new behavior is expected.
Make situations explicit and explain what is meant by abstract concepts such as ‘a data breach’. Find examples from case studies that are recognizable to the employee. There is a good chance that you will realize a huge step in behavioral change with this alone.
Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Insight leads to responsibility
When the employee starts recognizing situations, you can provide further insight into the role of the employee regarding a particular situation. What should the employee do? Or better yet, “What should he or she definitely not do?” What responsibilities does he or she bear and what could be the impact of acting or not acting?
Always assume the responsibility of the employee. As an organization you can offer him or her the right tools to make hard choices in a difficult situation. Make sure to teach the employee to see the bigger picture and make him/her understand what role he or she has in this situation. This will lead to the feeling of ownership, the feeling that someone can make a difference with his or her actions.