We all have our share of ‘difficult people’. Conventional management of change has taught us that there is always going to be a group of ‘no-hope’ people and another group of ‘maybe-but’ very-sceptical-people. We all know what we mean by it. My warning is against premature labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies.
A converted sceptic is worth 100 disciplined followers, because (a) an imitation of his ‘conversion’ may draw a small world of its own into the change and (b) the ‘conversion’ itself is social proof and legitimization. “If Peter is involved, maybe this is for real at last’
A frequent ‘internal segmentation’ often reads like this:
Good guys: going for it, get them all on board.
Resistant guys: they will never change, be prepared to let them go.
Sceptical guys: mainly a pain, either they will ‘get it’ and change, or else’.
My advise:suspend judgement, be willing to be surprised and, above all, don’t write off the assets that quickly.
Mary, the one who is systematically sceptical, may well be so for a reason. And she may see vital change as a real opportunity for real change and see a role for herself in a model of distributed leadership, when she may have a role as influencer in a Viral Change™ Mobilizing Platform, for example
Alice, a wonderfully loyal employee, always ready for change, may have been taken for granted. But Alice, recently promoted to section manager, may not fancy the idea of Change Champions going around apparently bypassing her hierarchy. She may become a wonderfully unhappy and unsupportive employee.
Do not sideline anyone! Let’s first see who the final characters are in the tipping points plots! Suspend judgement.
It’s worth remembering a fundamental principle of social influence. John, a very vocal sceptical, negative person, socially toxic, well known and omnipresent pain, is so, literally because he can. Translation: John has an audience, maybe the group, the division, the entire company. John gets away with this behaviours because he usually gets zero challenge. From nodding whilst he talks to not challenging him, John and his behaviour, are reinforced all the time. Probably this is day one of a social psychology course.
Transplant John to a group of positive, no-time-for-moaning-people who will challenge him (for example, make him part of a group of positive influencers; ok, John may be shocked by the invitation; even better) and the reinforcing world is reduced to a bunch of 29 ‘this-is-not-how-I-see-it-my-friend’ people. I can guarantee one of the following
John is suddenly converted
John is diagnosed as Acute Masochism.
Suspend judgment, the world may change tomorrow.