I like to watch America’s Next Top Model. I don’t know why because most of the models are the size of my right leg, but I enjoy the show anyway. A couple of seasons ago they challenged the models to do a “quick (clothes) change” in under three minutes or the runway show went on without them. It was a funny show and a fascinating demonstration of their rather unique skills. However, in your personal or professional life, it’s not a good idea to let the show go on without all the members participating. The doubters will drag their feet like Fred Flintstone at a stop sign in Bedrock, causing unnecessary delays in the transition.
Here’s a simple formula for “rapid” change that many Cougars have successfully employed, demonstrating both strong and positive leadership. It is imperative to make sure everyone on the team does these three things:
1. Recognize the problem
2. Agree on the problem
3. Contribute to the solution.
Rapid change will not occur without the cooperation or buy-in of everyone. Communicating about the challenge and how it effects each individual positively, as well as, negatively is imperative. Call it any new term you like but lose-lose is a big motivator in American culture. Sometimes you need to put as much effort into explaining the problem as the solution. Once, everyone understands the problem and realizes how it will effect them, again,
i.e. no vacation if we don’t budget, loss of jobs if we don’t get more contracts, then, and only then, proceed to participative decision making about the solution. Rah, rah, let’s go team and reach our goal is fine, but my field research has seen better results with “Here’s the deal. We might have to shut this puppy down next week and Misty will never get braces for her jacked up front teeth if we don’t dig our way out of this cavernous hole.”
Give folks time to think about the issues, at least a day, before they offer thoughtful input. That whole “Who’s on board right now? Raise your hand…” thing just lets the team know you’ve already decided what you’re going to do. That’s autocratic and more effective in times of crisis. Discuss the teams’ ideas, even if they’re ridiculous. It’s the kiss of death to make a team or family member feel you don’t respect their opinion. Allow them to share their insight and build consensus before you make the change. Open communication is healthy. It generally leads to agreement and better morale.
Does this work for everything? No. Sometimes dictatorship is in order such as life or death situations (i.e. there really is a fire on the 4th floor!) or federal compliance issues. For long term plans that will result in broad changes; however, be collaborative, patient, and flexible. But, if every little decision your team makes, from the flavor of coffee today to who puts paper in the copier, becomes a battle, consider trying this approach of conflict management. It works. I just used it to convince my arms and legs to join the exercise program my heart and mind devised. You should see us jogging together!
IN-courage yourself Cougars!