How to get cooperation from I-Know-All employees?

Alexander Stern   July 30, 2014   Comments Off on How to get cooperation from I-Know-All employees?

Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to share a great insight I got through the Coaching for Executives training program which I undertook recently. I am taking it for two reasons: one – to become highly trained in the most pressing issues executives and managers have in the complicated, multicultural and very dynamic world today; and second – to be able to give valuable insight and possibly internal or external coaching services to those who strive for excellence, results and growth.

These goals would be possible through thorough application of highest level of coaching knowledge and techniques developed and honed by our mentor Andrew Neitlich, who is Harvard Business School graduate and International Coaching Federation’s ACTP training program leader, having more than 20 years of experience consulting and later coaching high shot executives in different industries.

Anyway, so I was practicing with another coach-in-training, simulating a complicated situation, where a software group manager, having 3 teams and around 20 people under him, needs to raise the effectiveness of his people, making them more active, pro-active and enthusiastic so that development is faster while maintaining high quality of deliverables.

Final results of this coaching should be:

1. all tasks done in estimated time or shorter
2. task estimations become shorter and more concise
3. people initiate needed changes and improvements
4. people take more responsibility in the quantity and quality of their work

Sounds familiar? 🙂

So, after analyzing the team leaders and other group members behavior, I reached conclusion, that I would need to get better cooperation from the team leaders. And point is: some of them ARE STRONG HEADED! Which clearly causes other people in the team and the group to look up to them instead of cooperating with the required improvements and changes.

The reasons why it is so are clear – the guys are more knowledgeable in the existing solution, more experienced with the different problems the software faced and has successfully resolved, resulting in many hacks and workarounds which only developers know, and so they are unwilling to receive lead from a person without all of this knowledge.

So what I found out as a good approach partially because it is based on my current knowledge on human nature and how the mind works: people must be as right as possible in any situation and this rightness is dictated by what THEY know and what THEY believe is true.

So the best way I could see to get the desired cooperation would be in fact to cause such a person to bring forth his OWN solution to the business and company needs, so it would be HIS and not someone else’s.

That way I would only state what is needed from the team and the reasons behind it and then ask very respectably NOT for the opinion, no! For the solution and preferably 2-3 of them with the full reasoning behind them, so the I-KNOW-ALL person himself would fight for the right solution which seems to solve the business needs, such as making work more efficient and productive for the entire team.

Plus, if a solution is accepted, which was born by such a lead player of the group – it has much more chances to become reality, than if it was planted fully from an outsider! Because if a manager or such an outsider “said so”, it would certainly result in team and group automatic resistance with mechanical movement toward the stated goals without heart, enthusiasm or attention to the details or quality.

When people believe in what they do and are enthusiastic, then they move faster, they think clearer and they tend to take more responsibility and act. While totally on the contrary, when their opinion, knowledge and experience are disregarded and not fully consulted, they would be apathetic, slow and mentally dispersed.

Hope this article would help to smooth out some conflicts which are many times a sad reality in R&Ds, groups and teams all over.

To your success,
Alexander Stern
Software Architect, Consultant and Coach
Effective R&D Evangelist