Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

roots1

You must believe. As a change agent you must believe in the task at hand. So you ask, what exactly is it that I must believe?  

You must believe in the goal or the vision. You must believe that it is a good place to go. You must believe that it is a good course.

Because not believing has awful consequences. I know because I’ve been there. It’s apparent. You cannot hide it.

Was it entirely my fault that I did not believe? No. Was I guilty of not making the right effort with powers to be to find a way to believe? Yes. I did a disservice to myself and the project by not making it clear to my superiors that if I didn’t believe in this I would fail, the project would fail, and we needed to work at my belief or get me off the project.

If I don’t believe my performance will suffer. That is certainly true. The greater damage will be that most people on the project  will know I don’t believe. And unfortunately, unbelief inspires unbelief. It inspires mistrust and cynicism that those who are supposed to help them don’t believe in the cause. The project members may not know why something is amiss and they may not be able to put a name on it. But they will know. They may see it as going through the motions, lacking optimism or lacking conviction.

Others must believe that you believe. That is why it is so important to do the upfront work before anything kicks into motion.

Again, it is relationship building. In this case it is both upward and outward.

Upward to those directing the work. You need to establish a relationship that says this is a joint effort. That change efforts need to inspire belief. They have to have tangible and visual value. The reasons for the change have to be meaningful and understandable to the people you are asking to change. You need to help the powers that be to understand that it’s part of your job to give projects the right kind of believable meaning.

And also reaching outward to your project team. If you want them to believe you not only must they believe that you believe, but they must trust you. You have to start building that bond before you ask them to do anything. Plant seeds and educate and understand before you ask for anything.

If the roots are not severed, all will be well in the garden.

seedling1

We want people to just get it. When we pitch an idea or concept to someone we want all the light bulbs to go on at once.

Sometimes people do just get it. But that’s the exception. And when they don’t get it right away we often get frustrated or we try to force it.

It’s as if we have forgotten what it is like to learn something new. How easy it can be to be overwhelmed by new concepts, especially when you have your real job to do. You don’t even know enough to be able to gauge the value of the new concept so you can’t even make a choice to prioritize it.

Then we start making requests of them to start making changes, implementing new things. It’s hard enough that they don’t fully understand yet (not that you don’t ask them to do foreign things because it is in doing that we learn). But the psychological risk here is that they often don’t see you as requesting them to try a new process but demanding that they try a new process.  They feel this because most likely you’ve been assigned this task by someone above them and view your requests as not optional. And no one likes to feel that demands are being put on them from an outside force.

I don’t know how to avoid this entirely. Change comes with resistance no matter how you sugar coat it. You can, however, minimize this by building the relationship first and then requesting change and experimentation.

There are many ways to build relationships. There are also many ways to damage relationships. One good way to damage a relationship is to start by asking for something before a relationship is built. Like in the example above, if you start asking someone to change before you build a relationship you’re creating a one way dynamic. You’re asking them to do something and you’re asking them to trust you. All the burden and effort is on them. I wouldn’t want to be part of that relationship.

What can you do then to avoid this? Plant seeds, not demands.

Plant seeds by educating them on the concept, illustrating the concept, highlighting examples of the concept without asking them to do anything. Give the seeds time to germinate. Continue to water the seeds by offering more knowledge. This shows a commitment to them by you. By offering observation on their operations in context to the concept. This shows you are paying attention to their world. This is how you build trust. This is how you build good will. This is how you can give without asking.

If you do it right, they may ask you when they can start a new project or process. If you do it right, you may see an opportunity to offer assistance in trying something new.  Yes, there will still be apprehension but there will also be willingness.

In fact, you should always be planting seeds with all your business partners. You should always be educating them. You never know when these seeds will germinate. Plant seeds, reap benefits.