They Don't Get It!

THEY DON’T GET IT: Why aren’t you getting results with your team?


If you manage people or lead a team, you have likely felt this way. Frustrated, stressed, and out of options, you eventually relent and just do things yourself. 


But oftentimes you have missed the first step in our “Leading Change” process. You never assured me that there was an Agreement on Approach. As adults we retain this quirky privilege: we want to hear our leader’s idea, consider it, question it, and decide for ourselves that we want to do it. Weirdly, even though our job may be on the line—if we don’t agree with the approach, we usually won’t do it (and we’ll find compelling reasons why). If you’re training and coaching, and KPIs aren’t bringing about the result you expect, you should double-check if your team agrees with you and your direction.


Just this week, I was talking business over a bourbon with my good friend, Trevor. We were talking about his job. He’s a regional sales rep for an organization that sells aftermarket parts for motorcycles. He’d recently been called to the corporate office, where the national sales manager announced a new program for improving sales. All of the regional sales reps were present (more than thirty). The national sales manager thought he’d done his homework and had a beautiful presentation. 


As Trevor was telling me his story, however, he shared with me what he was thinking as the presentation was happening:

  • “This won’t work.”
  • “I’ve seen this sort of thing before. My accounts won’t go for it.”
  • “There’s a simpler, more effective way we should consider.”
  • “They’ve already invested too much money in this program for me to change their minds, so I’m just going to keep quiet.”

Trevor looked at me, cut his eyes to the side, and said, “I’m not going to spend any time on it.” I could tell. He wasn’t going to change his approach. His manager hadn’t changed his mind. He would continue on his previous approach. No change. 


Just look at all the lost opportunities in this exchange:

  • Trevor isn’t going to spend any time on the sales manager’s new program.
  • Trevor will likely reduce his collaboration with the sales manager in future sales promotions.
  • The sales manager doesn’t know anything about Trevor’s alternative options.
  • Their relationship isn’t strengthened. 


...and worst of all,


  • The sales manager believes everyone is onboard and assumes all sales reps will be implementing the new program—but Trevor “isn’t going to spend any time on it.”


The sales manager can’t rely on his savvy PowerPoint to convince his team. Nor can the sales manager count on the weight of a large group meeting to add value to the new program. 

If there’s any advice I’d give to dramatically increase your leadership skills, it’s this: DON’T ASSUME YOUR TEAM HAS BOUGHT INTO YOUR PLAN, JUST BECAUSE YOU HELD A MEETING. We’ve all made the mistake of assumption. Assuming your team is onboard without confirming will stop your change momentum in its tracks.


If you want a fully enrolled team (as signed up and onboard) do this:


  1. Create a safe environment for dialog. Make sure your team is heard. Listen. Pro-tip, taking notes is a good way to remain disciplined when listening. 
  2. Have these conversations one-on-one. The worst mistake we make as leaders is trying to secure alignment in a group. 
  3. Take your time on this. If you don’t think you have time to do this now, how much time do you think you’ll have to do it over?
  4. Mostly, be clear about your approach. Be sure you can explain it in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. 


Good luck!


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