How to respond to “This will never work.”
Periodically in my work with teams across North America, I come across a team member who is emphatically against any improvements or changes we try to make; even when those changes are the direct result of their ideas or input. This is often someone who is a long-term employee and who is, in his or her own words, “sick and tired of changes.” Typically these employees are also very vocal with their feedback and concerns, indirectly influencing the opinions and acceptance of other members on the team. Fortunately there is a solution that can overcome this push back…
That’s right, despite all of my recommendations over the years to focus on collaboration, open dialogue and team decision-making, there will come a time (likely several times) when the leader of the team or organization needs to just move forward.
In my experience these highly vocal employees who push back on ideas respective to change are frustrated as a result of not seeing change successfully introduced in the past. This may have been a new process that was introduced and was never fully adopted; new software that was to make their job easier but in fact became more work than any value it provided; or possibly it was a promise made to them at some point in their career that never materialized. In effect their doubt that arises through verbal and even emotional responses to potential change, is ultimately the result of changes they had previously accepted not happening as they were originally intended or promised. The only way then to overcome their objections is to actually move forward with the change as planned.
To put it bluntly, you need to overcome their doubt by demonstrating results and the only way to demonstrate results is by moving forward.
Here are 5 steps on how to handle this type of circumstance:
1. Ensure the employee has ample opportunity to voice their concerns relative to the changes intended.
2. Address their concerns through discussion or demonstration on an individual basis. This might seem like a lot of work, but typically concerns boil down to that of concerns around how the change will impact their time and their workload.
3. Once you’ve worked through steps #2 and #3 above, provide a date on which the change will move forward and continue to hold dialogues as you prepare to launch. Many leaders announce the change, and then move on. This is a mistake – you need to continue discussing and addressing objections as the change approaches.
4. Move forward with the change as planned and on time, maintaining frequent and open dialogue with those involved as to what is working, and what isn’t. Address concerns quickly.
5. Regroup within the first few days and during the first few weeks to discuss progress and next steps.
In my experience, following this approach repeatedly will eventually turn the “doubting Thomas” into an avid supporter. However, this support will only come after they have experienced repeated examples of the changes identified actually coming to life in the forms they were intended.
There is a time for discussion and dialogue, and there is a time for action. Great leaders know when it is time to make this transition and turn promises into results. How do you apply this golden rule with your team?
If you’re experiencing difficulty with effectively introducing change that sticks download a copy of my e-book “Formulating Effective Strategic Change“. This guide contains every step and approach you will need to ensure your strategic objectives are achieved with speed and accuracy.
© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.
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