Your organization is changing, and you’re tasked with helping your team make the transition. Maybe it’s a new selling strategy. Maybe it’s a new process or reporting structure that’s being introduced. Maybe the company is trying to transition to a more customer-focused organization. The problem is that you have one or two people who really don’t seem to have bought in. What do you do?
It’s a very common and very serious challenge. It doesn’t take a lot of people – sometimes only one – to derail an entire initiative. Doing nothing isn’t really an option. These ‘difficult employees’ fall into four broad categories:
They’ll come along for the ride, but you have to push them every inch of the way.
They look for reasons to criticize every new process, direction or idea involved in the change.
They dig their heels in won’t budge.
They will actively do things to prevent the change from happening.
Unfortunately, with Anchors and Saboteurs, there is often little you can do other than set them free to pursue other organizations with which they will be more comfortable. But there are some things you can do deal with Pushcarts and Judges.
If you have a Judge on your team, you are likely to find that he (she) is a Judge in everything he does. Cornell University Professor Robert Sternberg refers to this as a ‘Judicial’ personality type. These are people who will spend as much time judging a trainer’s delivery style, for example, as they will in judging a workshop’s content. They can, at times, become so focused on judging that they don’t even think about doing.
The key to engaging Judges is to leverage their innate desire to think things through. You accomplish this by asking them their opinions regarding the ultimate outcome of the initiative and the processes that are being put in place. Questions like, “What do you think of this ‘customer-focus’ shift in the company?” “Why do you believe that?” “What has to happen to make this successful?” You might never get a Judge to actually champion an initiative, but you can turn him into a positive influencer.
Pushcarts, in simplest terms, are people who are afraid. They are unsure of what is around the next corner, so they hesitate to take any forward motion that might make them vulnerable. If they are going to move forward, it will be only under explicit direction from a superior. In this way, any blame for failure will never fall on their shoulders. Getting a Pushcart engaged requires you painting a clear, vivid picture of what is actually around the corner, and what life will be like when the change is made. The clearer the image in their minds, and the more they trust you, the more willing they will be to step forward on their own accord.
Before any initiative begins, of course, you need to spend a little time in front of the mirror. Are you actually championing the change, or are you one of the four types identified above? Sometimes the hardest people to get motivated for change is us.