How to Create Transformative Growth Points for Reluctant or Resistant Employees

They keep falling short. But you want them to reach the next level.

Establish an affirming context for growth.

A transformative growth point:

Years ago I was asked to work with a manager who didn’t see their own potential.

Her annual reviews were the same. “You need to improve your people skills.” She was succeeding at running one location. They wanted her to run several. She seemed reluctant and resistant to grow.

I met her in a Dunkin Donuts for coffee and asked a question that changed the trajectory of her career.

“Why do you think we’re here?”

She thought about it and said, “Because I’m not doing a good job.” I hadn’t planned it, but I said something that shifted her approach to herself and her future.

“Actually, we’re here because you’re worth it.”

The bridge from being broken to being worth it overcomes reluctance and resistance.

Belief is the first step of transformation. Growth begins when we believe that others believe in us.

Note: This approach probably won’t work with arrogant know-it-alls.

Arrogance and stagnation:

People don’t grow when they believe they’ve arrived.

Pain overcomes arrogance:

  1. Don’t protect them.Let them feel the consequences of their arrogance.  
  2. Expect them to remedy their own messes.
  3. Teach them how to apologize. If they refuse, fire them or send them to a backroom to work alone.


It feels like you’re more committed to a person’s growth than they are at the beginning. Embolden them to commit.

  1. Candor. “This has to change or eventually you’ll be gone.”
  2. Responsibility. “Are you willing to take responsibility to grow in this area?”
  3. Commitment. “How committed to your own growth are you? How might you elevate that commitment?”

The great calling of leadership is people development.

How might leaders create transformative growth points for reluctant or resistant team members?