Working with sceptics to new practises

 

 

There comes a time when you must introduce new practises or processes to your team.

Don’t expect it to be all smooth sailing, especially for well-established teams. They will question it. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to convince yourself that by virtue of your title you can push the practice and have it adopted whole heartedly

What you want to think of is the distinction between compliance and commitment.

Here are some of my suggestions for working with your sceptics.

Let them see the benefits

It’s bad enough you are introducing a new system for them to use it better work!

In leadership, it’s easy to assume what you know is correct and others are wrong. This dangerous assumption means you push practices that have no other value besides inflating your own ego.

If the practice is beneficial, then let the people see it. By adopting the practice, you should be able to show them via anecdotal evidence of its success and how it benefits them.

Provide training

The knowledge that is painfully obvious to you is likely foreign and unintuitive to your team.

Hanlon’s razor captures it beautifully:

Don't assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding.

Training can be very useful in this respect, by running even an hour session with the team showing them how the process is done, you can make a lot of headway in getting them to adopt it.

Celebrate vocal sceptics

There is always that thorn to your flesh. The individual who is very vocal about your changes and how stupid they are.

The natural human reaction to such hostility is to close them out or attack them.

I suggest you instead keep an open mind and assume the individual is questioning the methods not you as an individual.

As such, invite them to all relevant process improvement sessions, let them air their views. Genuinely take them into consideration and address what can be addressed.

Hopefully, they can become your champions, if not, then maybe they can disagree but commit.

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. “Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.”

    ~ Jeff Bezos

Challenge them to do their best so that they can prove you wrong

All processes introduce a level of drag into the system, in effect what was getting done, gets done slower. The benefit usually lies in improved quality and less rework.

That’s of course if your process is a good one, there is always the chance you are wrong and unnecessarily burdening your team.

So teach the team the easiest way to shove it in your face is to do their best at this new practice and if no benefit accrues, you will be forced to reconsider.

While obviously a dangerous move, they can choose sabotage, if it works it will provide compelling evidence, enough to move them from compliance to commitment.

Show don’t tell

This is a particularly useful heuristic in many areas of life including the change in the process.

One of the great commandments of science is:

Mistrust arguments from authority

You want your team constantly engaged in a constructive disagreement with you, that’s how you get the most creative ideas out of them. If they become “yes men” your innovation capacity effectively shrinks to just one person, you.

By allowing for disagreement you then have the chance to show your new method will be of benefit to the organization of which you are all part of.

How do you introduce new practices in your own organization? Talk to me in the comment section below or on my twitter @jchex

 

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Published by

jchencha

API Engineer