On the one hand, the old line, ‘organizations are full of people anxious to be told what to do’ may still be true. Organizations are also full of people resenting hierarchy, or at least, wishing there was less of it, especially the hierarchy that generates politics.
The hierarchical types usually ask, ‘Why won’t they do what I tell them?’
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could issue clear goals and direction and that they could be well understood? Ideally we could then let people get on with things and be totally engaged in making it happen. But, life and the organization are not that simple.
We’re not talking about bringing social justice to organizations. Nor about the few folks do like being ordered around.
The one thing we can take for granted is that if we want to create engagement, this line matters:
When I Insist, You Resist.
While the thinking about applying the idea comes from the likes of Steve de Shazer’s therapy and coaching, it applies equally to management and leadership.
So, when we do know where the organization, or the team is headed it’s increasingly important to create employee engagement, transparency, etc. How do we avoid resistance?
Here’s some practical Solution Focused principles and practices to overcome your insistence and their resistance by getting people engaged from the start:
Slow the Pace
– It’s counterintuitive, but this will always speed things up.
Develop a deeper understanding
– Help them understand the direction and thereby understand more yourself.
Avoid being the expert who knows exactly what needs to be done
– The people doing the work need to figure out for themselves how it will get done. Besides, collectively they may know more than you! Assume they are the experts – even though they may not know it.
– Not just about the obstacles, but what’s already working. Then, how they see direction being implemented.
Find the compelling reasons for change
– Help them see for themselves why the change/direction is necessary, plus how they will get there.
Establish mutually agreed upon goals for change that will bring the project goals to life
– Besides the big picture, how they will get small implementation steps and momentum happening.
Go on. Give it a try!