5 Answers for Resistance to Development
Some leaders refuse to change. You want them to rise. They offer resistance to development and cling to patterns that hold them down.
Resistance to development feels like pushing an unwilling rope.
You care. They’re not interested. You want them to step up. They step back.
5 answers for resistance to development:
#1. Validate their talent.
People don’t see their own talent.
Bob Herbold’s parents thought the guidance counselor was talking about the wrong kid when he scored high on an intelligence test. Turns out Bob was smarter than even he thought. Eventually he earned a Masters in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in computer science. He retired as the COO of a small software company you probably heard of, Microsoft (1994-2001).
Answer resistance to development by offering assessments like Strengthsfinders or VIA Character Strengths Survey (Free version of VIA is available).
#2. Raise their confidence.
Stretch assignments terrify high performing perfectionists. They don’t play unless they win.
Support when you challenge. Hire a coach. Provide training. Be a mentor. Tell them how you failed and what it did for you.
Answer resistance to development by providing a safety net.
Life is small when you’re afraid to fail.
#3. Lower their confidence.
Overconfidence prolongs incompetence.
The people you want to develop are already doing a great job. Perhaps they need a new lens.
Do a 360-degree assessment. Let them see what others see. Use empathy and compassion when you kick someone in the pants.
#4. Check your culture.
Do you punish responsible failure? Or do you honor high performers when they struggle but fall short? Cheer for people when they reach high even when they botch it.
You get what you honor.
#5. Go small.
Answer objections to development by lowering expectations. What small change represents growth?
An oak grows so slow you don’t see it.
What helps people overcome resistance to development?
Responsible Mistake-Making: You Suck Before You Shine
7 Ways to Give Support Without Prolonging Incompetence
5 Surprising Reasons for Poor Performance You Can Solve Quickly
How to Respond Skillfully to the Three Types of Failure
Dan I have used coaches successfully for several director level staff. It works best when you let the employee pick the coach from a couple you suggest. And then, other than an update once a year, stay out of their relationship!
Thanks for your insights, Brad. Any time you give people a choice you acknowledge their power. When we make choices for people, we take their power.
“You get what you honor.” Profound (and worth the read all by itself, not to mention all of the other good points). Thank you!
Thank you, Peter. A good word is fuel for the journey.
I think a percentage of development initiatives fail because the leader isn’t precise in defining the specific knowledge, skills, or behaviors the person needs to learn and use. Leaders also need to explain why the changes are needed.
Comments like–be more empathetic, take a leadership role, have more executive presence, and build a high performing team are too vague. Leaders need to pinpoint the exact changes that are needed.
So true, Paul. Words like more or better when applied generically to development are useless points of anxiety. One advantage of making small changes is it’s easy to be specific. For example, practice time management by beginning and ending meetings on time this week. Next week we’ll try something else.
Dan, Your first two sentences set me off… Made it hard to read the whole post. I am often told that I’m resistant to change. However my bosses wish to change back to policies that were tried years prior to their hire…and failed.
When I voice my words of caution I am told that I “resist change”. Even after I explain the history that I was a part of and they were not. It is very frustrating when I give my 40 plus years of experience to try to avoid making the same mistakes over again and it is dismissed.
I don’t have all the answers. But sometimes I can see failure coming from the start. ( have yet to say “I told you so”I hope I never do.)
Not what todays post was about…. Thanks for letting me vent!
I’m so glad you joined in today, Jeff. Your frustration is well placed. My focus isn’t company policy or day-to-day operations, but leadership development. I see a difference.
I suppose your challenge is giving input and letting the person who is responsible make the decision. When they make a decision, you see as detrimental you have another challenge. It’s not easy especially when you have years of experience.
Thanks again for jumping you. You enhance the conversation.
Thank you for the great post Dan!
“You get what you honor” is such an impactful idea. Leaders many times don’t realize the kind of culture they are creating by the way they hire and promote. Close to this idea is that you also get what you tolerate. Not holding people accountable for bad behavior creates an environment where high performers leave, people ignore rules, and a toxic work environment thrives.