You are not made to rule. Why your team embraces bayonet innovation

You are not made to rule. Why your team embraces bayonet innovation

The word “change” in business is often accompanied by nervous tics in the eyes of many managers and entrepreneurs. It’s not just a word, it’s a spell. Because it can instantly divide the team into three camps: those who are ready and have been waiting for these changes for a long time, those who would work “the old way” for another 100 years, and those who have not decided which camp to join.

It’s easy to pivot when you’re a startup with a team of 5 people. But when a startup grows into a large company with 15, 20 or more employees, making big changes becomes more difficult.

It seems natural that some people do not accept new orders: new managers, new KPIs and plans, new strategy. You can’t please everyone. But team resistance can often become a growth blocker for a company. What should the manager do at this moment?

Each manager will have his own voices in his head. In some they will whisper “release them all”, in others – “they are like your family, you have to listen to them”, in others – “how legitimate will it be for me to make changes without the consent of the absolute majority?”.

These thoughts are natural. But among them there are those that are especially dangerous for entrepreneurs who want to grow a business. They can repeat themselves year after year, blocking new ideas and actions. About them – in this article.

You are not made to rule

You were once told as a child that you can’t draw. Do you remember? Only you pick up a pencil, and here it is – the whisper of that teacher who, to put it mildly, disliked you: “Drop it, it’s not yours”

Years pass, we haven’t seen the teacher for a long time, but the whispers haven’t gone anywhere. He stayed and settled in our head. And don’t be shy to express yourself. For example, when a manager says to the team “let’s put in KPIs that will help grow profits” and the team says “no, that’s not right for us”, his internal narrator begins to rationalize what happened.

Not even to rationalize, but to suffocate: “I respect people, so I can’t force them or make decisions without them. There are people who like to give strict orders to others, but I am not one of those people. I guess I’m not cut out for management.”

Here, let’s stop and think. Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable in any team where creative and ambitious individuals work. But the manager’s task is not to suppress their will, but to find a reasonable compromise, which satisfies all parties. Listen to the objections of your employees, try to understand their point of view and find a balance between the interests of the team and the interests of the company. And make decisions (but more on that below).

These scales have one golden rule. They definitely shouldn’t lean in the same direction all the time. If you regularly ignore the interests of the business, it will turn into a charitable organization where the employees will be the only beneficiaries. If you constantly ignore the interests of the team, you will have to build everything alone.

Finding this balance is a big challenge for managers. But also great power. On the one hand, managers mistakenly believe that effective management of people is to suppress their will with brute pressure and dictatorship, if the circumstances require it. On the other hand, they naively believe that the team will independently follow their interests if they establish “good human relations” with them. And also – the information field additionally inclines us to one of the poles (that’s why you don’t see neutral news, everything neutral is uninteresting). For example, books about turquoise companies incline us to the pole about an independent team. And to the pole about dictatorship – books about the laws of power.

In fact, to run a company, you don’t need to tell people how to live. It is only necessary to build management so that people, by achieving their goals, helped the company achieve its goals. Then the same “weights of interests” will always be in balance.

“Change is painful and will take a lot of energy, strength and time”

Spark, storm, madness. Few people know, but these words from a famous song describe the thoughts of managers when they think about changes in the company. This process is extremely difficult, terrible, bloody, unbearable. It doesn’t even look like an action movie, but a disaster movie.

Talking to the team about this process is just as difficult as having a conversation about breaking up with a romantic partner. And even if you speak, all proposals will be taken at face value.

When the team rejects new ideas, a picture of confrontation emerges. On the one hand, there is an entrepreneur who tries to explain why it is necessary to link everyone’s activity to KPI. On the other hand, a team that sees only problems in new KPIs. Entrepreneurs say: “We are not achieving our goals, so we need to update the motivation system,” and employees dismiss it with the words, “Whose goals are we not achieving? Our goals are being achieved, everything is fine”

Different managers will follow different scenarios at this point. And many of the scenarios will really take a lot of energy, strength, and time.

Those who strive for the “turquoise” pole choose the scenario “change something only with the full agreement of the team”. And all resources go into finding a solution that suits everyone.

This is the moment when the manager is not sure which way to go. He starts running around and asks the team for help. Everyone begins to pull the blanket, offering their solutions.

Sometimes we call it democracy. We arrange a discussion, try to find a common solution, because it seems that everyone’s opinion should be taken into account and the right decision should be made.

But in such a situation, the decision-making process often comes to a dead end. People argue with each other and with the manager, getting tired and heating up the situation. As a result, it is often difficult to achieve the desired result: either decisions are never made, or the ones that are really needed are not made.

Those who gravitate to the “red” pole, believe that people can simply be taken and built as you need through force pressure. This approach resembles a scene from a blockbuster, where the main character, gritting his teeth, breaks through impassable obstacles. The idea is simple: “I am the manager, so I know better, let’s act my way.” They put everything on the line to achieve obedience without thinking about the consequences of such “leadership”.

In this struggle for control, the entrepreneur begins to spend a lot of resources to cope with strong resistance. And the stronger an innovation is pushed, the more resistance it meets.

So, we have a question: how to find the golden mean between these extremes? How to introduce changes without arranging “democracy games” and without turning into a crazy dictator?

Changes do not require titanic efforts if the manager knows how to manage and organize the work of the team. What does it mean?

First, he has the competence to attract talented people to the team. Therefore, do not be afraid that disagreeing employees will leave the company and you will have to hire new ones. For many, it is the fear of caring for key employees who do not embrace the new order and the inability to find replacements that blocks many innovations and, as a result, business growth.

Second, the entrepreneur knows how to build hierarchical relationships with subordinates and understands that the company is his and no one else’s. The responsibility for the company’s success lies solely with him. And only he makes the final decisions about its activities. Yes, after hearing the opinion of the team. Yes, listening to their point of view.

But any group has a leader who has the last word. And if you are not ready to be this leader, then there will be an informal leader in the team who will take the helm of the team from you.


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