Change is not something most brains regularly craves. The reason is that change makes us feel incompetent and frustrated. It is also tiring as it requires us to mainly use our small prefrontal cortex rather than our basal ganglia. This use of our prefrontal cortex is what is so exhausting—think of it like driving in a new city without any map.
Trying to get a team to change is something I find leaders often struggle with how to do effectively. We see everything from Rah Rah to glossing over details to just dictating what needs to be done.
Yet the funny thing is- the better you are at clearly sharing a vision, sharing what obstacles need to be overcome, and then enabling people to have the control to make it happen—that is when miracles happen.
Read on to see how to rebuild trust when change freezes up an Executive team..
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How to Fix a Broken Relationship with the Executive Team
I have been tasked with making some significant changes in an organization that likes their traditional manner of doing things. I found early on that the Executive Team were defensive to changes so I started keeping things close to the vest and only sharing changes I was going to do closer to the time frame of when I could execute them. Because of this I did have to be a bit more evasive and we did miss some deadlines. I was told I was too defensive.
Now I am finding that the Executive Team wants me to present multiple times on what my team is doing and why we are doing it as well as each executive wants to then give their input. This is making it very difficult for my team to do their job and it is taking up an enormous part of my time.
How do I fix this?
Other Person's Perspective:
The Executive Team wants change to happen but at the same time they want to make sure they don’t just throw out all the good of the old way of doing things. They are the ones that will ultimately be responsible for whether or not this new path creates the change that is desired. At the same time, they understand and are familiar with the old way of doing things and can only look at what you do through that old lens. This causes them to compare what you do and remain skeptical on whether it can work or not. This happens if you are just sharing what steps you are going to be doing rather than constantly sharing the results that will come with the new path.
Thinking it Through Using Outcome Thinking®: You need to be able to calm the Executive Team so they know you understand what their vision is and that you can share how your plan will help the company reach its goals; that you understand the barriers to reaching that goal; and you understand the culture you need to protect. Once they know all of that they can calm down and be part of the solution.
The unfortunate thing is, that when you were confronted with their fears (which came in the form of them pushing back on your ideas) your brain resorted to protecting you by stopping the sharing of information with them.
Any time you stop sharing information, the other party’s brain moves to high protection and fear which means they look at all you say and do skeptically. So during this process both sides lost trust.
This loss of trust has now showed up in them wanting all the details as they believe if they know all the details they can manage the result—they feel details will give them more control and hence, lead to a better solution. This is the tangled web we need to unwind and rebuild trust.
Best Handled/Phrased: The following steps will help you establish trust:
- Start by talking with them about what you see their vision as being and recognizing the barriers that make the change hard.
- Acknowledge that you found yourself going silent in order to move things forward and you recognize that that put them in an uncomfortable black hole as they couldn’t see if you were or weren’t executing to their vision. Hence why you wanted to take a step back and share what the mutual vision is so you could make sure you all are aligned.
- State that going forward you will always make sure the executive team is clear on the “why” of what you are doing, that you will share clearly where you need their support to execute, and that you will always keep them abreast of anything that may impact deadlines.
- Share that in order to do that you will now becoming in with- what we are doing and why, what you need from them, and where we are against deadlines.
Then going forward, if they push back, make sure you stay in curiosity to understand what they are fearful of or what they are protecting and go back to the point of agreement and outcome desired.
How To Structure Your Message So They Hear It
Stop trying to build a PowerPoint presentation! How To Structure Your Message So They Hear It, is a compilation of questions and answers that have been put together by Anne Warfield, asked by professionals on how to build a speech or message so your audience hears it.
Anne has included, not only HOW to say it, but actual Scripts that you can use to put together a memorable presentation.
that you can
"An important decision I made was to resist playing the Blame Game. The day I realized that I am in charge of how I will approach problems in my life, that things will turn out better or worse because of me and nobody else, that was the day I knew I would be a happier and healthier person. And that was the day I knew I could truly build a life that matters."
Leadership Development and Tips Using Outcome Thinking®
When did Senior Management become sacred? I am amazed how many times I see a bubble around Senior Management that stops people from bringing critical information to them. Keep reading future blogs where I will address why that happens so you can ensure you don't have that protective bubble with your team.
So how do you tell them you think their "great idea" is a bad idea?