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:
- Don’t protect them.Let them feel the consequences of their arrogance.
- Expect them to remedy their own messes.
- 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.
- Candor. “This has to change or eventually you’ll be gone.”
- Responsibility. “Are you willing to take responsibility to grow in this area?”
- 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?
Good Friday morning post, Dan.
Why do you think we’re here? …because you are worth it! Gave me happy goose bumps.
When the student is ready the teacher will come!
Side note: growth, I have always believed, is four tiered. We learn a new skill/task; we attempt the skill/task; we fail quickly if we are lucky; and we succeed. A failure is the best coaching opp.
Thanks Melrose. It’s great that you added four ideas. My short posts always leave lots of things out. “fail quickly if we are lucky;” <— gold.
I think another addition has to do with competency. What are the competencies of the people we want to see growth in. Sometimes we can hope for something that is out of line for the person.
I do like the approach where you’re actually saying to the person that they are worth it. Totally reverses their mood from defensiveness (and dare I say it – preparing excuses) to forward looking and pondering potential.
Has worked wonders in the past, and also just a few weeks ago when a young reception / showroom hostess was pondering departing because she felt trapped in a dead end career.
After taking some time to show her a path forward in her career and discussing several tactics or ideas she could pursue she thanked me for spending some time with her. My reply was as per your blog “it was no trouble, you’re worth it and i can’t wait to see what you achieve”.
She has already taken good strides forward into a future career in marketing.
Thanks Rob. Your strategy of showing a path forward is powerful. This morning, when I jotted notes for the post, the idea of seeing a path forward was one idea that hit the cutting room floor. I’m glad you brought this important technique to light…along with affirming the ‘you’re worth it’ approach.
” The great calling of leadership is people development . . .” Love that.
I see a key point as not to provide false hope, telling someone they will grow and not deliver the promotion. So for the Leader position as I see it, “make sure you’re ready or can deliver on your challenges’, nothing worse than false hopes or challenges with empty promises.
Thanks Tim. The strategy of dangling the carrot and pulling it back only works once! Sadly, I know many leaders who have experienced the situation you bring up.
Totally agree Tim. That then comes down the your balance of providing inspiring leadership vs personal integrity. I think the trick is to provide an inspiring glimpse of the future, some elements of the persons skills, behaviour, competence or passion that could make this possible and some guidance on the next few steps they could take …. if they want to.
I prefer to not promise a future, just provide a glimpse of a possible future, why they are a candidate, and then ensure they know it is really up to them if they head that way.
Would you offer any different advice if you were a new manager, younger, working with someone who has been with the company since the start who is struggling with change and growth?
Thanks Young. Yes. Approach more experienced people with curiosity. Respect their experience, even if they see things differently. Practice transparency. Openly discuss where you hope to go, what you hope to achieve. Explore their goals and challenges. When you feel resistance, ask them for suggestions on how to deal with it. In other words, ask them to help you help them change.
Learn some forward-facing questions. Stay open. If you’re pressured from people who are above you to make change, let that be known.
In the end, we can’t change anyone. We only change ourselves.
You might find something useful here: http://bit.ly/2mJe1Fs
Thoughtful approach. I will never pass a Dunkin Donuts without thinking of this powerful reminder!
Thanks Skip. I’m thankful for you and thankful you stopped by.
Especially being a young manager, it would be great to hear from higher ups that I’m worth it, that what I’m doing is contributing to the betterment of the organization. This would provide more fuel to me to keep growing and show them that I matter and my work matters.
Thanks Mitra. Love your transparency. If only more leaders knew that this is easy to do and doesn’t cost anything but for some time and attention.
How do you move an organisation from a position that failure is unacceptable and to be punished to one where it’s the development opportunity of choice?
Hi Mitch. Great question. Thanks for bringing the idea of learning/growing through failure to the conversation. The first thing that comes to mind is to change something that’s close to your area of influence. Don’t try to change the whole thing. Change a small thing.
Perhaps begin meetings with, “What are we learning from failure?”
Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford, comes to mind. He promoted a culture of candor. I wonder if there might be some lessons from his experience at Ford.
Really liked this post Dan. Obviously this manager wasn’t reading her context. Context – it either floats your boat, or it sinks you.
Great post Dan. Positive reinforcement can be a major wake up call.