Every organization we work with typically has an employee who struggles with change. Maybe it’s because there have been so many changes implemented, but none of them ever really stuck. I would struggle with that too. Maybe they have some insight on the situation that you don’t or simply want to have some questions answered. I would want to be heard too.
One common frustration I have heard from owners and managers over the years is: “Why don’t people just come in and do what you ask of them?” Here is what I have observed. We live in an age where access to information is limitless. If a person wants to understand how something works, he can figure it out in a moment. As a result, the employees who aren’t immediately on board with your vision probably are not working covertly for the dealership down the road. They are simply trying to understand if you are really serious about what you're saying, and what it might look like when push comes to shove.
Maybe their resistance is not a definitive stance against you and what you are trying to do, but maybe it’s a desire to understand your thinking.
What do you do to address this? There are three things I would encourage you to do when you have an employee who isn’t on board.
How to Become a Better Communicator
Have you communicated what you are trying to do in a way that makes sense for that person? Have you explained why things are changing and how the changes will affect them?
During change, regardless of which department it affects, the number one question your people will have is: “How does this affect me?” Think about any change that has happened to you in the last month. What did you want to know? My guess is the same thing your people want to know.
Are you getting ready to implement a new process? Your department wants to know: “How does this affect me?” Are you hiring a coordinator to help with the efficiency in this particular department? Everyone wants to know: “How does this affect me?” Are you going to start to look at numbers regularly by department? All your people will be a little nervous and want to know, you guessed it: “How does this affect me?”
Understand Their Point of View
Whenever you have an issue with an employee, you never bring up the issue in front of others. What you need to do is say: “Walk with me.” Taking a walk with an employee allows you to do a few things. First, it allows the conversation to be private but still visible. When dealing with conflict, you want the conversation to be private. We always want to praise in public and correct in private, however, that doesn’t mean you don’t want someone else to have eyes on the situation.
When you take an employee “for a walk,” you are on neutral ground, and your employee's guard will usually go down. Their arms will unfold and their tone will have a dramatic change — probably not like puberty level, but close. This is what you want to happen. The lower the guard, the better information you can get from the employee, and the closer to a solution you will get.
I was on-site with a client a few years ago when I encountered an all-too-common situation. The owner was frustrated that their manager was not doing what was asked of him. To prove the point, the owner asked the manager to finish a report before lunchtime. Lunchtime came and went, and the report still wasnt done; the owner was furious. The owner and I went to the manager and asked him to take a walk with us. During this walk, I asked the manager to help me understand what had come up that had prevented him from completing the report before lunch. He told us that a client called with an urgent problem and needed assistance. The manager had thought about it and figured the owner would have wanted him to help their client and deal with the report later. He was right. It lined up with their core values, but this could have never been figured out if a “walk with me” moment had not happened.
Set Expectations Going Forward
At this point, if you have communicated clearly and understood the issue by walking with the employee, it’s up to you to set expectations about what appropriate behavior looks like going forward. You need to set up checkpoints, to make sure both parties are moving forward, and define and clearly communicate the consequences for not meeting expectations.
Positive change in people will happen if you take the time to follow up on the requested change and help them implement the habits to make the change stick.