I've successfully implemented the Manager Tools Trinity over the past 12 months with almost all of my team.  I say 'almost' because there are a couple of cases that have not gone so well.  I've been trying to put myself in the shoes of the individuals who struggle with this model, to see what kinds of problems I can discover.  The one statement I can see them throwing at me is, "You're trying to change the rules in the middle of the game!"

How do I effectively fight the mentality that they shouldn't be held to a higher standard in the future, simply because we have never done that in the past?  I don't expect them to adapt to this model overnight, but I'm still getting significant resistance after a whole year of doing it.  How would all of you Manager Tools disciples handle this situation?


buhlerar's picture

Are they resisting one-on-ones, feedback, delegation, etc.?  Where are you stuck?  It's hard to diagnose without knowing what you're struggling with.  It's also hard to tell from here whether you've executed it effectively, so where do we focus our comments?

My next question is -- why are you guessing at their concern?  Have you asked them to tell you directly?  Building relationships is the fundamental step here, and that would imply plenty of communication.  Not to say they'll always give you a candid answer, but again it's going to be difficult to give very meaningful advice without that information.

So my advice would be this -- ask them what their concerns are, and then give us a little more information so we can give you more targeted guidance.

Good luck!


uninet22's picture

The area I receive the most resistance in is with regards to feedback.  Rather than accepting it and setting a plan to improve as the rest of my directs do, they want to conduct a long conversation about it, essentially trying to discredit the feedback or me.  This leads me to give them feedback about accepting feedback in a more constructive way, which is met with further attempts at discussion and discrediting the feedback or me. 

Another area that meets with some significant resistance is goal setting.  These directs do their jobs proficiently, and therefore, they see no need to improve.  When I encourage them to set more and better goals, they resist.  When I note that in weekly one-on-ones and in quarterly reviews as a major factor in recommending 'no change' in status or pay, they are frustrated. 

You make a good point about simply asking what their concerns are rather than just guessing at them.  I'll do that going forward. 

In the mean time, I'd still like to know how other managers deal with this core concern that we're changing the rules in the middle of the game.  I assume that most MT subscribers are endeavoring to make some relatively massive changes in their areas of responsibility - essentially changing the rules on all of their directs.  We hope that most of our directs can see that it's going to help everyone, not just management.  But for those few who don't, what have you done to help them come on board?

TomW's picture
Training Badge

My first sarastic thought when I read your initial post was "I've never paid you more than you're making today, so I guess we should never do that in the future either?" From the sound of it, you've already latched onto that idea.

Is your feedback focused on actions? Like "When you raise your voice in a meeting..." or "When you miss deadlines...".

I'm curious about their statement on "chaning the rules in the middle of the game." Did they never have any form of improvements asked of them before? What kind of work are they doing? Do they have an aspirations for promotion?

cim44's picture
Training Badge

Just a comment that I'm in the same situation - trying to hold staff to a higher performance level than they've been required to do in the past (I've taken responsibility for them in the last 6months?)

While I will come back to type more, is the simplest answer the best?  Our business is changing, we are required to redefine what is acceptable / satisfactory in the future in order to compete (etc etc, tailoring as much as possible to the situation).

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 If they're resisting and pushing back maybe you haven't built a strong enough relationship with them yet.  For feedback to be taken seriously the person recieving it has to be believe that the person giving it is a) sincere (that they are giving the feedback because they honestly believe what they're saying, not just looking for an excuse to give a kicking) and b) correct (the situation they are describing is the true situation not some fantasy they have invented as an excuse to give out a kicking or the result of malicious gossip).  If you haven't built a relationship then any negative (aka adjusting) feedback you give may well seem to them like you making things up about them, or listenting to malicious gossip about them, as an excuse to vent your spleen by giving them a kicking.  Even if you believe that the situation you describe is true you run full pelt into the fact that no-one has perfect knowledge of a situation and any observation is subjective.  There's what you think happened, what they think happened and what actually happened.  You could just fall back on your roll power, turn up the brightness on the neon sign on your forehead that says "I am your boss and could sack you."  That'd work...for a while.

Another thing that comes to mind is the ratio between positive (aka affirming) and negative feedback.  I forget the exact ratio but, the recommendation is that you should start giving positive feedback before negative and even when you start giving negative to try to keep the ratio of positive to negative high (negative tends to be more memorable than positive so you need to do more of the latter to balance out a little of the former).  If you only give negative feedback or give positive only sparingly (or only to certain people) then that's going to breed distrust and cause directs to see you as just some ogre who only speaks to them to give them a kicking for the sheer joy of it. 

 On the 'changing the rules part way through the game, I have a view on performance goals for annual reviews (which you comment seems to me to imply is the nub here).  I think that once goals are set for the year they should only be changed when there is a very good reason to change, the reason for the change has been clearly communicated and pre-wired over a significant period of time (minimum of 10 days) and the impact of that goal change to the business and the employees has been communicated.  Also the old goal should, if possible, be closed off and the new goal substituted.  By that I mean that if your team make widgets and have a goal of 10 widgets on average per day (averaged over the year) but 9 months in you want to increase it to 12 widgets per day you calculate the widgets per day and review them on that and then impose the new goal as 12 widgets per day for averaged overt the remainder of the year.






Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack


Smacquarrie's picture

We are dealing with the same thin where I work. All employees are being held to a new, more strict, metric than ever before. You can try to use a transition period but I prefer ti have the new requirements explained then implemented. This let's them know that these are the new rules. If they ask why the bar must be raised you can explain it with a simple business reality. The few are asked to do more with less. This is the reality in the workplace for the last few years. If they can't step up, they may be deemed replacable. Keep this last part ti yourself.
Just my 2 cents.

uninet22's picture

I like the "Simple-answer-is-best" approach.  Our industry is changing, our customers are demanding more, so we have to respond.  We have to make constant progress or we get left behind. 

One of my major problems is that I'm the only MT follower in my organization.  The rest of our leadership hierarchy suffers from all the typical maladies that Mike and Mark are trying to help us correct in their podcasts each week, and they don't see any problems with that.  So I'm implementing these practices totally on my own. 

As I said before, the majority of my directs can see the benefits this new system offers to them, and they like it.  But the remaining few prefer the old system because they aren't held accountable for much.  And since our executive team is ambivalent towards the changes I've made in my department, it's very easy for my directs who don't like them to resist.  They know I won't get a lot of support from above unless I really fight for it. 

TomW - your first sarcastic thought is exactly what I've been thinking.  No, they have little or no aspirations for advancement, and have even rejected promotions in a couple of cases (?!)  and yes, I've made sure the feedback is brief and behavior specific.

I think StephenB has a good point about making sure the affirming feedback far outnumbers the adjusting feedback.  I have a tendency to focus too much on the bad and not enough on the good.  I definitely need to do better there.

Smacquarrie's picture

Does your organization have anything like 6Sigma? If si you can fight for this under continuous improvement. You will need to get management o board with making improvements. Use those who comply to make the case for why improvement us good. Make a case to help coach the few on why the many do so well.

robin_s's picture
Training Badge

If, as you say, some of your directs aren't looking for advancement (as a high "D" that is just so unbelievable to me!)..then my suggestion might not work.  But you might try it anyway - Let them know where these ideas come from - send them a link to Manager Tools, perhaps to an appropriate podcast.  Sometimes when folks see that we aren't just making this stuff up, and that there is a growing community (world?) of managers who are doing this, they will be more likely to get on board with it.

When I rolled out the one-on-ones, and again with feedback, I taught my directs the models, and told them where I got it from.  At least one of them has "followed the link" and is learning from MT as well (my single "A" player).  I also shared information I got here with the leadership team I am a part of.  Not sure how well that went over since I am the "new kid on the block", but hopefully as my team becomes more effective that will spark some interest. :)

Best of luck to you.

GlennR's picture

Two thoughts: First, I agree with the simple, "we're changing to meet our customer needs..." approach. Second, you mention that most of your directs are on board. This, too me, sounds like the typical diffusion curve with innovators on the front end and laggards on the back end. That's typical of change management. I would worry less about those slow with adoption as more will come around over time. Were this happening to me in my organization, I'd focus on walking the talk, creating 03s that add value to both the employee and me, let everyone know what my expectations are.

I would also sit down and have a heart to heart talk with each of the laggards. What specifically are their objections? In this I would be practicing Covey's "Seek first to understand, then be understood." Or, the phrase I like better, "Listen with the intent to understand, not to argue."

I've worked in different corporate cultures where one was a "Show me the data that proves your point,'" and others that were, "Okay, we'll take this on faith for three months." Fortunately, I now work in the latter. Perhaps your desired outcome would be to, "Try this for three months and then we'll re-evaluate." You know that if your 03's are well planned, you will show value.

Ultimately, there may be one or two that cannot adapt to this new environment. Don't worry about them. Rather, help them find work in another department or organization.

Pilot's picture

How do I effectively fight the mentality that they shouldn't be held to a higher standard in the future, simply because we have never done that in the past? 

You have to be able to describe the benefits of the change to their daily work tasks in three dimensions with full colour. The new and better work environment they are going to experience and the future benefits of a workplace with structure, form and process. Give ownership to the individual. Co opt their input and ask  question after question after question to smoke out their real bottom line problem.(one on ones are the key here and you have to follow the process implicitly) Engourage and cajole, prod, push, lean and make it transparent this is happening with or with out thier resistance. (one on ones again) If after a year they are still unmoved and  in "The past" they should probably get  the same salary as "The past" which is probably a good reason to review their skills and talents and redeploy.

You are obviously navel gazing regarding thisand wondering about your role in developing the resistance. If the resistance is based on an ineffective personal relationship (lack of respect for you rather than your role) I would tackle that first and the rest will fall into place all by itself.(the feedback model)