You can’t beat a good animal metaphor – a leopard can’t change its spots, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, elephants won’t tell you what they want…wait, elephants what? Never heard that one before!
In a great article by Bri Williams recently she explores the Elephant and the Rider metaphor and highlights the necessity to understand the real reasons people may move or change behaviour when putting your messages together.
The metaphor illustrates the different types of thinking and behaviour within all of us and the need for those trying to influence behaviour to appeal to not only peoples logical rational sides but also their emotional and impulsive sides too. Although The Rider (rational, responding well to facts and figures)  is thinking at our most rational, The Elephant (emotional, impulsive, likes the easy life…sound familiar?) is actually the thinking we use most of the time
Both Marketers and Reward and Recognition Managers can learn a lot from this; reason and facts are all good and well but if your message or program only tries to appease the rider but doesn’t appeal to your audiences inner elephant you are unlikely to illicit the behaviour you need.
When you are building or adjusting your reward and recognition program be sure that the message, incentive and rewards appeal to those inner elephants. But of course, no 2 elephants are the same!! You may need to have a range of incentives and recognition both monetary and non cash based, from days off to public praise and acknowledgment, from corporate gift cards to gym passes and bonuses.
Your reward and recognition program must be not only aligned to the organisational goals and objectives but also to your teams inner elephants. So take the time to really understand what will influence and persuade your targets to move, be it customers or staff. Modify and adapt your programs and track the changes in behaviour and the effectiveness of your efforts and perhaps influencing and moving those elephants won’t be so hard.


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