10 Ways to Help Reluctant People Make Commitments

Leaders spend too much time trying to get performance from people who aren’t committed.

The worst thing you can do is explain why it-will-work to people who aren’t committed to make-it-work.

You know the scenario. You make up a suggestion and someone explains that it won’t work. What happens when you answer a naysayer’s objection? The naysayer comes up with another reason you’re an idiot. (They don’t use those words, but the message is clear.)

The problem of reluctance is commitment, not negativity.

Those who AREN’T committed find fault. Those who ARE committed find a way. Spend more time helping people commit and less time pressuring people to conform.

Reluctance is normal. When you push, people push back.

Respect people’s reluctance to commit. It means they want to succeed. People don’t like to start things they can’t finish.

10 ways to help reluctant people make commitments:

Invite people to commit. Don’t pressure them to conform.

  1. Listen to constructive dissent. Don’t minimize concerns.
  2. Don’t offer quick answers to resistance.
  3. Keep the big picture in focus. Explain value. Describe success. “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
  4. Get to yes. “I see what we can’t do. What can we do to accomplish this objective?”
  5. Create safety nets. Make commitment less dangerous.
    • Reward responsible failure.
    • Create open channels of communication.
    • Track progress.
    • Bring up problems when they’re small.
    • Leverage experienced team members.
  6. Put yourself out there – make commitments. Reluctant teams are often led by leadership that’s playing it safe.
  7. Call for small commitment. “I feel your reluctance. What small commitment could we make right now?” (Big commitment follows small commitment.)
  8. Build relationships. Strong connection enables deep commitment.
  9. Divide responsibility between several people. (#5 is essential if you use #9.)
  10. Tell stories of past success.

Conformity never produces high performance.

What keeps people from making commitments?

How might leaders help people make commitments? 

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