Five Reasons Your Project isn’t Getting any Love
You’ve gotten the green light. The executive committee signed off. Everyone held hands, blessed the plan and said “Go Forth and create this change!” So why the heck isn’t anyone listening to anything you say?
They’re paid to resist.
Is their job function tied to the original structure? Would their skills or value as an employee be in jeopardy if your change plan works? If so, don’t expect them to be the first to jump onboard the change train.
They’re paid to resist (Part 2)
Does their compensation structure (particularly when commission or tier-based) reward them more significantly for other activities? If they can make 2-3 times the commission or fees based on doing what they’ve always done, and it will make up for any penalties or commissions lost by not doing what you want them to do, why would they choose to behave otherwise?
There are bigger issues at hand.
Is your company facing lawsuits, regulatory pressure, a revolution in the industry’s way of doing things or delivering product? If that’s going on, unless your project immediately and significantly contributes to solving that pain, it’s going to be the low man on the totem pole. Think about it, if you are in the horse and buggy business, and your business is being threatened by the automobile, your project for more durable horse harnesses is not going to be a top priority.
You’re not making the benefits clear, or your benefits aren’t beneficial to them.
Are you communicating the WHY of doing things in a new way? And is that “why” compelling? As we are taught in sales training, people spend too much time talking about features (how a product or service does something) vs. benefits (This product will help you do X in less time, and allow you to have greater revenue which will get you a great year end bonus). As a project leader, we spend much time dwelling on the features because you’re “building” the project. You have to sell the benefits to get people to cooperate.
You’re stretching them so far out of their comfort zone they’re afraid of looking stupid.
Never underestimate the discomfort factor. Are you making them learn something they don’t think they’ll be good at? Are you having them interact with a new customer base or manufacturing process that they perceive will have a high risk of blow back on their career prospects if they fail?
They didn’t sign up for this:
When you change how something is done, you may be forgetting that many of the people working in that industry consciously or subconsciously chose their profession in part because it didn’t focus on that skillset. A recent example is the number of doctors, nurses and medical professionals struggling with the fun of incorporating the required Electronic Health Records (EHR) protocols into their practices. From the intricacies of having to chart patients via computer to the added issues of having to answer emails from patients on a 24/7 basis, this is a very new activity for many in the medical profession. While many are very computer proficient, it’s not exactly what they signed up for in a career, and much of that resistance comes with the package. “I can piece together the human body after multiple gunshot wounds and you think I should do what with this computer?!”
Many years ago I worked in a public library system, just as the DOS based internet was becoming a major research tool. We had several senior librarians, who were near retirement age, who opted for early retirement rather than have to master the rather difficult computer programming required to use the system. These were smart people who loved books, and chose their profession based on that, rather than computers. For many, at 57 or 58 years old, they just were unwilling to have to relearn their entire profession, and face the possibility of looking stupid in front of a teenager on a computer at the same time.
We’ve talked about resistance to change before, if you haven’t already done so, read What Dieter’s can teach us about Organizational Change and Change does not Occur in a Vacuum.
What other situations have you seen? Can you figure out why your team resisted? Share your successes and your mysteries in the comments below:
Need help testing what you “know” to be true? Download our free Field Guide for understanding the organizational landscape before you begin creating change. “Reading the Terrain” gives you easy questions to ask yourself that will help you see your world with fresh eyes and broaden your perspective. And no, we won’t bombard you with junk mail.