Not Feelin' The Love? Now What?
I love talking to people about culture and team-building.
Audiences everywhere I go embrace my "Feel the Love" concept and are eager to pursue positive change when they get back to their site and/or organization.
There is one little concern, however, that hangs over leaders who are wanting to instigate change.
I will even venture to say, it is the single most common question I get in my travels:
"What do I do when members of our staff don't buy-in and don't want to change the culture?"
It is a great question and an absolute truth in any large organization that no leader gets 100% buy-in initially, if ever.
But you still need a plan to continue to move forward in spite of resistance, I have 3 strategies that I've used for years that have been successful:
Strategy One Do nothing.
So maybe a little explanation is helpful here. It is not asking too much for people to be a part of the team but for those that truly want be isolationists and not participate in culture-building activities, one option is to leave them alone.
Don't spend a lot of energy trying to make them come on board. Spend your time, effort and resources on the members of your team who are trying to be a part of the cultural paradigm you are building.
It is possible that people don't want to be left out. When decisions are being made and rewards are being handed out, some of the naysayers will come on board. This strategy is lovingly called "Feed the Rabbits and Starve the Snails."
Strategy Two Put them on YOUR team.
This was oddly effective the first time I tried this with one of my difficult groups.
I had a pretty solid group of 7-8 detractors who wanted nothing to do with our new vision and mission.
One of our core values, though, was team and every staff member belonged to a cohort that was tasked with a particular school improvement. Each team had its own leader and my role was to facilitate the work.
I decided to create a new team with my folks who didn't want to be on the bus.
We had team time built into our PD schedule, so I had a regular opportunity to sit with them and talk. We shared our concerns, listened to each other, and slowly built relationships that were a benefit to the entire organization. By the end of the year, not one person needed to be on the "non team" team.
It requires some boldness on your part because you start by "calling them out" in a way but remember, keep your friends close and your detractors closer.
Be patient and slowly win them over.
This one is my favorites and I think it's the most useful value in my leadership philosophy.
It avoids the call out or any negative interaction. It requires a lot of patience and consistent messaging for everyone, including your group of folk who aren't part of the team.
You need to constantly use and inundate your team with the values and vocabulary you want them to adopt. It's about winning them over in time by modeling what you believe every moment you can.
Be strong - you can't get frustrated or lashing out. I discourage you from having "the talk in the office" ...I have never been a fan of thinking one meeting will solve everything.
Stay committed to your vision and values and use them in your behaviors every day.
YOU. WILL. WIN.
Again, there's no reason to worry if you don't fix the culture in one staff meeting.
Nothing is that easy, but you can get a group to start.
Don't be intimidated by the folks who disagree with you and remember, it is more important for the organization to succeed than for you to be popular. DON'T LET THE NO HOPES WIN!