Last week we looked at how to create something better by using a method called “going out and coming back.” This uses imagination to define a detailed, desired future state in a personal or professional setting. Once the picture is alive, I suggested going out and being that painting! While this may sound mildly challenging to impossible, there are ways, in many cases, to make progress.
There are any number of possible problems you may encounter while trying to influence a stable environment (even if it’s dysfunctional). The responses to the following key questions are very important. Here are the questions.
- How strong is the opposition?
- How much does it matter?
Before we look at the possible answers, let me emphasize the importance of building and maintaining trust as much as possible … always. There can never be too much trust. Building trust is all about small kindnesses, making and keeping promises, considering others while being honest with them at the same time. Trust is built over t-i-m-e. Others need to see a pattern to decide that you or I are/am trustworthy. With that, let’s look at each one.
Low Opposition, It Matters Little – This is the easiest situation where the opposition is low and it doesn’t matter much anyway. The future looks bright!
Solution: Keep doing what you’re doing and accelerate your efforts to be the ideal painting.
High Opposition, It Matters Little – This is an area where you may not feel your job is threatened but life is uncomfortable or downright miserable. Chances are, the problems may stem from low trust in the environment. Work to improve trust with those in opposition.
On the personal side, the loud opposition may be from those who have less authority such as children. This does not mean their voices do not count but does mean “consider the source.”
Solution: Keep doing your good work and build trust with those who oppose you.
Low Opposition, It Matters a Lot – This scenario may be one where your job could be threatened eventually. Significant opposition, whether of a low or high amount, usually comes from a boss or other high-placed person in the organization. One important approach is to try to uncover unmet needs. Is the opposition from a lack of understanding? Are you being perceived wrong?
In a personal setting, a close friend or spouse may give some push-back. Again, can you discover unmet needs? This can easily include better two-way understanding.
Solution: Keep doing your positive work and look for unmet needs.
High Opposition, It Matters a Lot – Of course, this is the most difficult of the outcomes. You are strongly opposed and it matters a lot. At work, this could be your direct supervisor who is completely opposed to your efforts. If this is the case, you need to choose whether the environment is worth holding out for over the long haul. Have you mis-judged the organization and it’s possible to take another and better tactic? Is some of the opposition based simply on misunderstanding? Are there any allies in the setting from which you could gain advice?
If this is personal, you are in a tough spot. Not impossible, just tough. First, ask the question, is this setting valuable … long-term? Also, consider your commitments. A commitment to a spouse may be different from a commitment to a friend. Further, what is the current state of trust? If you have behaved in the past to hurt trust, it will take time to regain just an average level of trust. You may need to be patient.
Solution: Pull back, build trust, discover unmet needs OR look for another setting. If you decide to stick it out, be ready to work hard for an extended period.
- Change Change Management by Theresa M. Welbourne, PhD – Great article on how “the art and science of change management is due for a change. 1. Quit thinking about change as something that is negative. 2 – Stop talking about change management as an event. 3 – Use new models and move away from those based on grief management.” (PDF format)