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Is Your Staff Sabotaging Your Opportunity for Success Right Out of the Gate?

Photo by sookie

Photo by sookie

When your company is trying to implement something different, what phrases do you hear uttered in hushed tones (and sometimes not so hushed tones) in the break room and around the smoking area?

Anything like this?  “It will never work.”  “Here we go again.”  “We’ve never gotten this right.”  “This is stupid.”

The not-so-subtle underlying message is “So why try?”

You may even have a group with a more cynical view.  This is the group that deliberately stonewalls, won’t go to training, won’t pay attention at training, continues to no perform because they know that if they don’t perform long enough, the executive team will give the project up as a failed initiative.  In these organizations, there usually isn’t much consequence to undermining the effort, so there isnt’ an incentive not to.  Often, there is more incentive to impede than there is to perform (e.g. potential job loss).

As a leader, you have to understand that this isn’t just self-fulfilling prophecy or Law of Attraction at work.  These people are giving themselves the permission to fail, and this sabotages whatever effort your trying to make, right from the get go.  It tells you that your organization is not set up for making radical change.  This is not to be ignored.  Leaders do so at their own peril.

People didn’t arrive here overnight. The inability to adapt comes from failure experiences reinforced.  Think about the methodology implementation that fell over on its side as soon as the executive sponsor quit.  Think of the large software implementation that no one had enough training to pull of successfully.

Change is generally a double negative at work.  There is the act of the change, which we already know the brain resists at a fundamental level.   And then, there is the failure to make the change which reinforces the idea that the group “can’t” handle change successfully.

One way to overcome this is to fire their sorry, negative carcasses and start fresh.  Just kidding… although if Debbie Downer has set up residence on your team and won’t knock it off, a graceful, dignified exit shouldn’t be out of the question.  She’s causing other problems, trust me.

A better way to overcome this is to implement change more slowly or implement smaller more subtle shifts.  Give the group the experience of succeeding at change.

Set the groundwork for the change.  Use your coaching skills to help your team think it through so that they can come to the conclusion for themselves that the change is beneficial.  That’s how people own it.

What if the change isn’t beneficial for them?  Well, why would they willingly participate in something that they know isn’t in their best interests?  That’s the answer you’ll have to find.

There are innumerable books and studies that tell us change is hard.  What most of them miss is that repeating failure means training the brain for failure.  Inimitable Leaders™ develop their teams for success.

Be Your Best You Today,


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Terri Schepps

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