This would be the most frequent question I am asked when facilitating leadership or change management programmes. By ‘stuck’, the person means employees who appear to resist change and may display defensive or negative behaviour. It may be an individual, a team or within a culture.

The answer is actually very simple.The application takes hard work and for the ‘questioner’ to shift their mindset! See the 3 steps below.

1. EMPATHY: we either push people away or draw people to us through our words and actions. If you’re dealing with a ‘stuck’ person, usually you are feeling irritated, worn down and thoroughly dislike them.

The trick is to stop focusing on how you feel about them and start trying to understand them. Hard call…buts it works!

Which is the bigger motivator? avoiding or eliminating PAIN or GAIN (what we get)? Most of us would say gain. No, its PAIN! By understanding the pain, ‘fears’ (whatever it is that makes them ‘stuck’), you can begin to help them move forward. The biggest PAIN (fears) are:

  • Not being good enough: seen as incompetent or stupid, losing face
  • Losing control: being uncomfortable, not knowing ‘how to’, not fitting in or not standing out, loss of status or safety (what is known/ money/ security), even loss of identity (linked to work)

How? Talk about the ‘fear’. We need to have more real transparent conversations in business. Put on the table the elephant in the room and talk about it without blame or shame.

Get in. Get out. Shut up. With love.

Case example: As part of the Qantas Engineering transformation project I ran a leadership development initiative (over 300 engineers). This was a 101 good people leadership/ leading through change, and a large amount of mindset -shift from resistance to acceptance work. The first thing I would acknowledge at the beginning of every workshop and consistently emphasise throughout, was “This is the biggest, hairiest change I’ve ever seen/ been part of. To ask you to change is overwhelmingly huge. I get it.” Only then could I even begin to be heard by them, to talk about leadership, to work with them.

2. CHANGE TOOL: Use a simple tool to help them see the shift. I like  ADKAR and work through it with employees:

  • Awareness of the change (the why, the value),
  • Desire to change (the pain and gain),
  • Knowledge (what they need to know/ development),
  • Ability (how to set up the environment/ leadership around them to support change) and
  • Reinforcement (how to support and sustain change).

3. CHALLENGE: Be prepared to challenge them on below the line behaviour.

“Is this really who you are? Is this the best of you? Do you really wan to have a miserable day at work?” Few of us like to think we behave badly or are actually a ‘stuck’ person, so remind them of the best of themselves and praise them when they do what is needed.

Talk to me if you need help with your ‘stuck’ people.