Decision Making through Consensus – part two
Last time, we talked about the types of people who will be reluctant to making changes within your business, and who will therefore tend to dissent from decisions involving change.
How do you engage people?
Listen and learn. In some ways, the people that want to say no to your new ideas are teaching you something. They actually might be doing you a favor by making you consider your position and your alternatives and your arguments in a more deliberate way. If they’re saying no, and they can give some concrete reasons, that may allow you to go deeper into your own mind and your own argument, and actually come up with even better reasons for why you need to make a change. Or they may let you see that you’re trying to make too abrupt a change, and maybe a slightly smaller one will be more beneficial to the organization.
You have to expect pushback. Given what we just talked about, some people are never going to accept change. Why would you expect that you’re going to get 100% buy-in from the first minute? That’s really unrealistic, and you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Change gradually. Get the people that you know are going to be resistant on board in the change process early. Learn from them early in the process. Try to get them on a committee and get their feedback all along the way, so they can be a part of the decision making. Rather than surprising them with a big change, they can help you figure things a little bit along the way, and maybe help you understand that the pace of change ought to be a little slower. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we get a little carried away. And so maybe those people could be doing some favors by helping us along.
Ask their help at the very outset of vision planning. There are two kinds of visions involved in this. 1) What would happen if we make these changes and they’re successful? What does that make the future look like for us? And 2), because you have to contrast it, what if we don’t make these changes? And likewise, then what would happen over the next three to five years? Help them envision both the opportunities for success, and also, what happens if you don’t change. What are the potential failures or shortcomings you might experience as an organization if you don’t make these changes?
Some people will never get on board. And if you wait for them, you’ll be waiting forever. So push forward. When you know in your heart as a leader that change is the right thing, and you’ve got one or two people dragging their feet, move forward anyway. One of these four things is going to happen:
- They’re going to find that they’re isolated and they’re going to come around.
- They’re going to see the changes aren’t all that bad. In fact, the changes are producing positives. And then they’re going to get on board too.
- They might decide to leave the organization. But really, that is not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes when people fire themselves, it can be a good thing for the organization.
- They’re going to try to sabotage the changes. They won’t like it. They can’t live with it. By God, they want their way above the consensus of everyone else, so they’re going to try to sabotage things. In that case, you’re going have to take action, and you’ll have to make a strong decision as the leader.
All in all, you need to decide how you’re going to make decisions in your business. And once you’ve made that decision, what are your decision criteria? You need to move forward with your initiatives in spite of the fact that one or two other leaders in your business never can quite come to terms with the changes required to improve your business.