Your Chief Operating Officer suggests outsourcing the shipping of the Pearls and Baubles line to shipping experts Candy Movers. Candy Movers tells you that their "luxury packing" service will guarantee that 100% of the candy arrives intact. The shipping and extra packaging will cost you about $38,000 per year.
Your Chief Research Officer says that they have invented an additive that strengthens the chocolate that makes up the necklaces The additive will cost about $5,000 per year, and only changes the taste and texture of the chocolate slightly. It was thoroughly tested, and is perfectly safe and edible. Shipping runs show that 100% of the candy arrives intact with this approach.
Stay quiet about the safety issue. If the employees haven't raised any issues, it's not a big deal. And if they don't request it, they won't support it, and you won't achieve any results. Besides, they love the Employee Satisfaction Initiative, and it would be foolish to destroy that in order to tackle an issue they will probably dislike.
Tackle the safety issue. Just because they don't want to do it doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do. The really smart and committed employees will likely take your side, and the ones who gripe are probably better off leaving anyways.
End the task force. It's a waste of time and these people could be spending their time on more important issues. You need to communicate to everyone what is, and is not, important.
Let the task force continue. Executives love it, managers love it and the Board loves it. You only risk generating ill will if you cancel it. It doesn't cost anything and it doesn't hurt anything. The benefits are minimal, but it's not worth the political capital you will lose, and that you need for more important issues.
Stay away from anything that might scare the managers and instead focus only on the positive aspects. You run the risk of terrifying these managers and chasing the best ones away. And then the negativity virus will spread to the frontline employees and you could face a stampede. Not only will that kill-off any change efforts, it could destroy your career. If your pitch is good enough, you won't have to worry about whether this change effort is seen as necessary, because people will already be bought-in.
You've got to explain the risks of doing nothing and how this change effort is as critical to everyone's continued existence as breathing. These managers need to understand that if they don't change, their survival and the organization's survival could be jeopardized. You believe strongly that they have all the talent and skills to meet these challenges, and you will certainly communicate that message, but there can be no confusion about the seriousness of the challenge. You fear isn't that you're seen as too negative, it's that complacency will destroy the change effort.
Push forward with the change effort. If managers are feeling nervous, that just means you've got their attention. Every change that was ever worth doing made somebody nervous along the way. Also, you're pretty sure that limiting peoples' resources can actually be an effective way to grow their skills and elevate their performance. Oftentimes the best work occurs under constrained conditions (after all, necessity is the mother of invention). Nervous energy is a whole lot better than complacency or apathy.
Pause the change effort. If you learned nothing from business school it's that goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound). And it clearly sounds like your change effort goals aren't going to be Achievable or Realistic. Also, change efforts do not work if everyone doesn't have all the resources they need, and right now, your managers are lacking one critical resource: Skills. Even if they have other resources like Time, Budget and Authority, they're lacking Skills and that's a deal-breaker. Failed change efforts have destroyed a lot of CEO careers, and that's not a direction you want to head.
Yes. They're very powerful and connected, and you need people who can work the grapevine. Plus, everyone else on the Steering Committee is very positive and their great attitudes will spread to these executives. Overwhelm the negative people with positive energy, and then leverage their political power.
No. Their negativity will infect the team. Keep them far from the Steering Committee. You will have to deal with their negativity separately, but not on the committee.
Spend your time with the 10 really supportive people. And then use the supportive people to sway the 20 fence-sitters (you think the fence-sitters will be more receptive to their peers than to you). Turn the supportive people into heroes and let the stories about their great work teach everyone else. You can't fix the negative people without a lot more work, so don't even try right now. For the moment just ignore them and spend your time with your supporters. Plus it's a lot more pleasant.
Sway the negative people. They're pulling the 20 fence-sitters down to their level and you've got to negate their influence. So spend your time convincing at least some of the negative people to support the change and get them to release their powerful hold on the fence-sitters. The negative people are like an anchor, pulling your efforts to a halt. If you don't lessen their power, your change effort will fail.
Hannah, you're a financial genius, no doubt about it. Maybe the best financial mind in the industry. But I really need for you to ease-up on your fellow executives, okay? They think you're territorial and sometimes even angry. And Tuesday's meeting really did not help things. All of this is making my life very difficult, so take it easy on them. With the shape of the economy, I need your financial intelligence now more than ever.
Hannah, I've called you in today because there's a problem with your recent performance. In Tuesday's task force meeting you made three biting remarks during our brainstorming session, and that's just not acceptable behavior for that setting. Now, I can't force you to change, and I won't try. So you have a choice: you can change your behavior or keep it where it is. If you change, you will be much more effective and I can work with you to outline a very specific action plan. If you opt not to change, then we'll begin a formal 90-day improvement plan. I believe you're capable of changing this behavior. But understand that there are only two options here, and maintaining your present course is not one of them.
Joe, would you be willing to have a conversation with me about the missing itinerary? I'd like to review the situation to make sure I'm on the same page as you. And if we have a different perspective, we'll work that out and come up with a plan for the future. Does that sound OK?
I'll be honest Joe, I'm pretty angry about not having the itinerary. You obviously didn't listen when I said you were in charge of getting it done. If you're not going to do something, you need to tell me so I can do it myself or make other arrangements.
Only ask her about what motivates her. First, if you find out what motivates her, you will de facto discover what demotivates her, so this will be a much more efficient conversation. Second, if you start asking her about what might be demotivating her, you'll be cognitively solidifying all those negative thoughts in her head. And if there wasn't something actively demotivating her, you've now forced her to go looking for demotivators. You want her focused positively, not negatively.
Ask her about both what motivates her and also what demotivates her. Motivators and demotivators are not flip sides of the same coin. Just because somebody has lots of motivators coming up this week does not mean they don't have any demotivators. And before you can spend all day trying to figure out how to give people lots of motivation, you've got to at least acknowledge (and ideally mitigate) the things that are demotivating them.