3 Ways to overcome resistance to change w/Rick Maurer
Nexum bi-weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in change management.
Hosted by Morten Kamp Andersen
Nexum bi-weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in change management.
Hosted by Morten Kamp Andersen
Resistance to change is natural. We resist because we are humans. And there is always a good reason when people resist. You don't have to agree with those reasons, but you need to understand them to manage resistance successfully. In this episode of What Monkeys Do, I have invited change management expert and best-selling author, Rick Maurer. He will explain why you shouldn't necessarily try to overcome resistance. But understand it.
Resistance to change can occur for three reasons; People don't understand the change, they don't like the change, or they don't like you. It matters which reason it is because each requires a different approach. In the episode, Rick Maurer will tell you how to approach each reason with plenty of concrete examples.
In case you don't have the time now, here are a few key takeaways from the episode. I hope it inspires you to go listen to the full episode.
People resist for a good reason
Resistance is a natural reaction to change. As a leader, you should always seek to understand that reaction and the reasons behind it. Rick Maurer has identified three reasons for resistance:
Listen to the full episode to hear how you should approach each level. Rick provides us with a lot of concrete examples.
Always start by listening
It is as obvious as it is forgotten. So, let's remind ourselves; you should always listen to the people you are trying to change. You may think you know what they are thinking. And understand what they are saying. But the truth is that we often misunderstand. First, seek to understand then to be understood as Stephen R. Covey wrote.
Feel the energy
We often think of projects in terms of timelines, Gantt-charts and sprints or gates. That's all well and good, but maybe we should also think about energy. What is the energy towards a change? At what level are people energized towards a change? Is the energy positive or negative? Those questions are as relevant as "where are we on the Gantt-chart".
Rick on LinkedIn
Rick on Twitter
Rick's book on how to win support for your ideas: Why Don't You Do What I Want?
His book on why changes fail, and what you can do about it: Beyond the Wall of Resistance
Your opinion means a lot. Remember to leave a review or a comment, if you liked what you've heard. It is very helpful for our reach.
EP7 - Rick Maurer
Mon, 9/28 5:05AM • 49:15
people, resistance, meeting, leader, big, trust, thinking, change, called, books, organization, energy, understand, level, clients, questions, gantt charts, talk, important, support
Morten Andersen, Rick Maurer
Morten Andersen 00:05
Hello, and welcome to What Monkeys Do. My name is Morten Kamp Andersen. And this is a podcast about what it takes to make a change and make it stick.
Morten Andersen 00:21
In What Monkeys Do, we explore what it takes to make a change and make it stick. And today, we will talk about one of the most basic and fundamental things about change: how we react. Seven years ago, my wife and I decided to make a change, we decided to move home across the country, it was a big step. We just made new friends in the town we were living in. But my wife was offered a new job. And we saw this as a way to get closer to old friends and to new opportunities. The day came to tell our kids, our oldest she was eight at the time. And when she heard us talk about the exciting news, she was less than happy. In fact, she was as upset as only an eight year old can be, she had just started school. She's just got some new friends. And she did not want to move. I sat down next to her and explained how she could get new friends where we were going to live. I told her about my wife's new job and how exciting that was, I told her that moving closer to a big city would actually give her exciting new adventures. And she had cried for a while. But then she looked up at me and said, Dad, why are you telling me this? I know all of that. But don't you understand? I just don't want to move on. Now, I had finished my psychology degree at that time. But that was the first time when I really got the difference between knowing what is happening, and liking what is happening. And that is a crucial difference. My guest today is a change management expert, and he will be able to tell me what I did wrong. He is a best selling author of books such as, Why Don't You Do What I Want. And the classic Beyond the Wall of Resistance. He's also the father to two concepts you may know. One is The Cycle of Change. And the other one is Three Levels of Resistance. He has worked with leaders from companies all over the world, including Fortune 500 companies, he's the founder of Maurer and Associates, welcome to you, Rick Maurer,
Rick Maurer 02:22
Thank you, Morten, it's good to be here.
Morten Andersen 02:23
I want to start off with something very fundamental when it comes to change. And that is resistance. That's important, whether we talk about change at home or at work, or if we talk about many people, or a change for one. So let's try to start by understanding what is resistance? How does it look like? Why does it happen and so on? Can you help us with that?
Rick Maurer 02:43
Yes, by the way, your story is a great story. And I'll come back to that in a minute. when I really started thinking about resistance back in the early 90s, some of my clients were facing a lot of big changes. And they would talk about resistance all the time. I did a literature search in the business press. And I found that there was a verb attached to the word resistance almost all the time. And that verb was overcome, we've got to overcome resistance. And I understand why you might want to say that. But frankly, that attitude creates resistance. You know, I'm trying to make you do something, it's saying I want to overpower you. And whether that's your intent or not. If you're thinking I want to overcome, that's exactly how that other person is going to see it. Like who died and made them God. Yeah, that kind of thing. So I got really interested in that I started studying Gestalt psychology at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. And the Gestalt approach to resistance was unusual, certainly in organizations, and that was that people resist for good reasons. Hmm. It's so if we want to influence them, whether we're a therapist or a coach or manager, the best thing we can do is to pay attention to the person and to the resistance. So in the case with your eight year old daughter, just the fact that you made your pitch in a second, I'll say that's a level one pitch, but for now, you made your pitch. And she said, No, Dad, I get it. I know, you know, I don't like it. That kind of thing where the person in your case the father is willing to stop at that point and listen, Hmm, that's a big deal. Because you know, we calibrate all the time. So if we go a step too far, if our eyes are open, we're paying attention. We have an opportunity to go, Oh, I'm seeing the way he's furrowing his brow right now. And I can see the steam coming out of her ears, but whatever it might be. If I can pay attention, I have a better chance of getting people with me.
Morten Andersen 04:41
So you're saying that from a Gestalt therapy point of view, people resist for a good reason? What is that good reason,
Rick Maurer 04:50
identified three reasons. The first of those is not psychological at all. And it's simply I don't get it. I don't understand what you're saying. So you talked about, you know, your background in finance. Okay, I've seen finance people get up in front of people. And they, they're good people, they really want to influence them well, but they use all the jargon of the financial world and they lose their audience. I've seen marketing people do that. I've seen human resources, people. I mean, we all do that. So the first one is the simplest one, you know, I don't get it. Unfortunately, even though it's the simplest, we sometimes believe that is the key reason they're not going along. So I get in my head. Oh, if I explain it again, if I use more slides, oh, if I use clipart with my slides, they're gonna go, oh, wow, that's brilliant. It'd be like you showed your daughter pictures of moving to the new place. He noticed that I got that I got that. So that's level one. That's the easiest one, the second one, and it's where your daughter was, I don't like it. And this is an emotional reaction. So it isn't like, I don't like brussel sprouts. I mean, it's like something about this scares me that my survival is at stake. As adults, am I gonna lose my job? Am I gonna lose face? I'm an old dog, can I learn new tricks? I mean, just, it's deeply personal. And that's where a lot of resistance lies. And there's a couple problems with that level. One is it's often unconscious, and it's uncontrollable. It causes what the researcher Joseph LeDoux called an amygdala, amygdala reaction. I think Daniel Goleman, call it an amygdala hijack, or that part of the brain, the basic part of the brain, fam, this survival is at stake. And why that's so important is if we're in a meeting, and the person up there is talking through slide number 42, and 43. People aren't with them, because they're worried about their survival. And it's not that they don't want to be there. If they can't be there. And there's a lion just around the corner, I can hear it roar, I got to get out of town fast. So a big a big problem I find in organizations is this level two. And one thing to add to that is if I'm in a meeting, and let's say it's 75 people, and you say all right, so any, any comments, any concerns, I am not going to raise my hand and go, Martin, I'm having a level two reaction. You know, it's, it's, that's not going to happen. What I'll do is, I'll say Morten, could you go back to the last slide of a question about the budget projections. That's all nice, polite level one stuff. from your vantage point, you're thinking this is great. I asked for questions. People ask me questions, I answered it. So you walk out of the meeting, and your friend best friend says, how's it going? So what really well, and the problem is two different languages were being spoken. Hmm. So I don't get it, I like it. The third one is I don't like you. This is a bit of an overstatement. But basically what it means is, I don't trust you or have confidence in you for this particular project. Hmm. So it may be because of our history together, like I'm a, I don't know if you know, the expression flavor of the month, but I just read a new book. And now I'm excited and or I'm just somebody, I get started with something. And then six months later, I move on to something else and leave you holding the bag. Hmm. So it could be personal history. But it may have nothing to do with our actual relationship. In fact, the story that I use when I'm in Denmark a lot, is imagine that I was hired by whoever hired me to work on a project, not give a speech, but work on a project. And as soon as that person says, Well, we've hired Rick Maurer to help us. He's a consultant from the United States. And he's written books. Now, what I want is, you know, this little cartoon bubbles above people's heads. You know, I know that, you know, I want them to be thinking, Wow, this is great, another consultant from the United States. And not only that he's books. That's not what's going on. It's like another consultant from the United States. Who thinks he knows at all because he's written books. And so I've got to understand when I walk in that room, I'm an American consultant. And I cannot come in and say, Hey, by the way, I'm different than those other consultants. I mean, that just adds to the problem, when I've got to do is try to demonstrate that I'm different than their preconceptions. And if I don't do that, if I just go into what I think are my brilliant models, I just they're going there. See there? There he goes again.
Morten Andersen 09:19
Yes. Yes, that makes sense. Yes, absolutely. So So basically, you're saying that people resist for good reasons. And the three reasons they resist is one either they don't get it. The second one is I don't like it. Or the third one is, I don't like you. You could also say that the number one is a cognitive thing. You can say number two is an emotional thing. And you can say number three is a relational thing in a sense. I know you call them levels, is that because one is more difficult than the other or you have to get to one before you can get to the next Oh, how does that level work?
Rick Maurer 09:55
First of all, I'm glad you asked that. I wish I had never called them levels. What I meant by that is level one people understanding this is the easiest one to work with dealing with level two trying to say, Okay, here's, here's what's in it for you to, it's a little bit harder, or maybe a lot harder. And level three, if you don't have trust it's really hard. The truth of the matter is all three of those are alive all the time either working for us or against us. What I need to understand when I'm trying to influence you is to what extent do you get it or not? Hmm, to what extent are you leaning in going? Wow, tell me more about that. That's interesting, you know or not? And to what extent do you trust me? Or is trust seem to be building in our conversation? Or is it going away? So I actually had an artist, when I was doing the Why Don't You Want What I Want books, I create three intertwining circles. And I said, and he did a really nice artist's rendering. I said, No, no, what's sloppy circles, I want to show that this tension in the interaction so that a change at one level could have a positive or a negative effect that the others and it's always alive, I, I looked at a change at somebody's project plan one time, and they had a step four deal with resistance to change. That's good hearted. But resistance and support are alive all the time. From the moment you come up with the idea until the time that it's finally implemented successfully.
Morten Andersen 11:23
So I guess we have all tried to announce something, it could be home, we're moving or it could be at work. I'm a leader, and we want to do a mega change. And nobody's really reacting. So you might go away from that meeting at that conversation at the dinner table and thinking Everything is fine here. And you keep saying, Well, sometimes people may not even know that they're resisting, or it may not be very visible. I mean, how does resistance look like?
Rick Maurer 11:51
I think one of the things that we can do is try to step in their shoes. So before that meeting, or whether it's with one other person or 100 people and say, what's it going to look like from their point of view, I used to use theatre improv in my work. And I created this thing, which I called 180 degree switch. And so I would have people come up with something in the case that I love is my brain friend, Brian was in my test run of the same. And he loves baseball in his hometown team had just sold this top pitcher known as the big unit. And he said, Oh, I can do that. And I said, Okay, so Brian, I'd like you to tell me why that was a bad decision. And at some point, I'm going to say switch. And I'd like you to switch your point of view. 180 degrees, huh? Yeah.
Rick Maurer 12:42
So, so he's going on? Well, he's one of the great pitchers of all time, and I license and so we even let him finish a sentence. And it's a switch. And it was like, it was like steam was coming out of his ears like the brakes he was putting him on. And it was, it was like an old cartoon kind of thing. And he had the hardest time switching. So as an experiment as a way to kind of, you know, prime that pump, that can be a good thing to do. But it's important that you don't have to do it out loud to say, I want to influence these people, okay, for a moment by myself in the privacy of my own office, what are they going to be thinking? What are they going to be feeling? And I could go through the three levels? And if I can't answer those questions, like I don't know, to the extent to which they understand it, I don't know how they might be feeling. And I don't know what they think or feel about me. I am flying without radar.
Morten Andersen 13:36
Rick Maurer 13:37
if you have a high degree of trust, you can ask people, but just knowing I don't know, is a real wake up call. So I can give you a couple simple ways. One of the big consulting firms used to what they said parachute me in. So they were working on a project with a client. And I would come in and I would teach my stuff, I would leave and now they're consultants and the client knew my model. So it was an old line business have been around for a century with old confining, bureaucratic thing. So I'm talking to a planning team, it made up of people from around the organizations about 15 men and women. I've just teaching. That's all I'm doing. I'm not there to work on the project. And this one guy says, Rick, next week, the bomb is gonna drop. And I sit and people go, Oh, yeah, yeah. He said, What do you mean? Oh, it's gonna be terrible. There's gonna be blood everywhere. I mean, it's horrible image. And I said, well, what's going on next week? And they said, we're holding a meeting. And I go, yeah, this is an all day meeting. And I go, yeah, so with the key stakeholders, all they're gonna hate it, blah, blah, blah. And then they looked at me like, they had puppy dog eyes, and they said, What should we do? Now, at that point, I had no idea. I mean, I didn't know these stakeholders, but they're looking at me. And I would love to have said, Well, you know, I've written a book and if you just turn to page 42, you know you that would be arrogant and wrong. So what I did in this is I'm, you know, making this up as I'm going along, and I said, Look, everybody here knows somebody is coming to that meeting, right? I said, Yeah, I said, Don't tell me their names, what's going to be on their minds. And people started shouting, not shouting, but just down on top of each other, there was a flip chart there. And I started writing the stuff down, had no idea what I was going to do with it. And I don't like was halfway through the flip chart. And I realized I know what to do. So I get done. Everything on the list was negative. By the way, that's not always the case. I mean, sometimes it'll be a mixture, okay. But in this case, everything was negative. And I said, All right, we just went over the three levels. Let's imagine that level one I don't get it is green, which of these are, you know, level one, so I underline those, and a different color marker for level two, the emotional and a different color marker, again, for relationship. So now the whole thing is color coded. We've done it in a matter of minutes. So it's not a big fancy assessment, but it's their data, and they're interpreting their own data immediately. So now I've got everything's color coded. And the guy who had said the bomb is going to drop, he said, Oh, that's why the bombs gonna drop. And people look them. So wait, they said, look at that. We designed that entire meeting to deal with level one issues, timelines, deliverables, where we're going to start, you know, test plans, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. He said, very, very few things on that list. Maybe 10% of the things are level one, everything else is fear. Or they don't trust us. Yes. And the other people notice that. Wow, that's right. And here's what they did, brilliantly. They said to my colleague from the large firm, and me, could we take the next hour and redesign that meeting? Okay, they did not, say, Rick or Ross, who's the other consultant? Do you have some brilliant thing that we could do next Monday, you know, if they had to ask, we can, you know, give them some things we think would work. They didn't need it. And the fact that they had the data and know how to make sense of it, and they were able to redo the meeting. And by the way, that meeting went really well. I have used that notion of the list of always, since that was 20 years ago, hmm. If if I'm going to work on a project, I got to know what's on the list, what's working for you and against you. And my clients have got to know what's on the list. And so sometimes you can do it as simply as what I described, sometimes you might do focus groups, there's one thing I talk about one of my books called coffee with Joe. And these people will tell it like it is, and they're valuable to have around and I say have coffee with them don't have lunch, you don't spend that much time in there. It could be informal ways of doing it. Focus groups can work, you could do surveys, except people are surveyed to death. And sometimes we want to ask more questions than we need to. And so when I say to a client look at
Rick Maurer 17:54
it before this thing, I'd like us to get some information about the list. I'd like to do a survey. And I remember the first time I didn't want my clients at all require survey to death. And I said, Look, how about this three questions, and it will take people less than five minutes. And they said, okay, they went with level one, two, and three. So I never said, oh, here's my theory. Here's level one. The first question is, what extent you understand what this meeting is going to be about? level two, what's your reaction? You might have to make this change? I'm not trying to say, Are you going to support it, you're going to resist it? And the third is, to what extent do your leaders have what it takes to lead a project like that? Yes, we got brilliant information. And by the way, they said, Wow, our head leader is maybe the best leader I've ever worked for. And this was in an old style military organization that did not promote very many women to senior positions. So for her to one be in that position and be widely respected. There's a lot and she's, she earned that she's great. And so most everything was positive. They said, Yeah, we're scared about that. We have to make the change. But boy, am I glad we're starting on it now. Got it. And the only thing level three that bothered them is corporate headquarters. Okay. They said corporate headquarters can make promises and then not deliver. And so when I was talking to the leader and her team, she said, Yeah, they're right. But if we get them to come and kick off the meeting, she said, if they're, if they do it in an email, it doesn't work. But if they come and say, Wow, we support so and so in the team, they're behind us. So we started meeting and they came in and said, we're really proud and we're blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, what corporate people do? And the project went really well. But it was really quick.
Morten Andersen 19:35
Fantastic. So just to see if I get it right. So basically, you're saying, well, resistance is real people resist for good reasons. There are three good reasons why people resist one is that they don't understand it. They don't cognitively don't get it to, I don't like it. So there is an emotional issue or three. I don't like you there is a relational issue and the First thing to do is to try to find out what is the issue here. So try to put yourself in their position by doing 180 feedback exercise or to do the list or to do any such thing where you try to imagine what might be on their mind. And once you have a feeling for what that might be, then you can target your initiatives to to target what is the problem. So if the problem is emotionally, we'll talk about that. If it's, you know, cognitive, you provide some more information, etc. Is that right?
Rick Maurer 20:29
That's exactly right. Yeah,
Morten Andersen 20:31
Morten Andersen 20:41
I think over the years, I've seen that there are people who've written articles and books about resistance. And what they're essentially saying is that people don't resist it's to negative view of resistance is because we have bad leaders, people don't resist. And if we focus too much on resistance, we're focusing too much on what's not working instead of some of the positive appreciative things that we can look at. What is your response to those articles? So those people,
Rick Maurer 21:08
I don't agree with them? Oh, if you remember, the book was a huge bestseller called Who Moved My Cheese? Yes. And I was in an insurance company. And the next morning, I was going to be giving a keynote for them. And one of the guys over drink said, Oh, so how is your work similar to Who Moved My Cheese? And I said, I'm actually not, it's not similar at all. I am concerned about the people who are out there moving cheese and not telling other people about it. Hmm, I'm not looking at the people resisting because we tend to call them resistor, and how do we get them to go with the program? I said, I don't believe that at all. I think resistance is a perfectly fine word to use. And the reason and I got feedback from people while I was writing the book, because I even had, you know, Beyond the Wall of Resistance on the title, and people said, Oh, no, people aren't gonna like it. And I said, Look, my clients use that word all the time. Hmm. I don't care what psychologists say. I don't care what od consultants say, you know, even though that's my profession, if I use the word resistance, my clients get it, hmm. Now, but if you use the Gestalt term, then it doesn't have that negative valence or connotation. It's a way we react, it's a polarity, we can react this way we can react that way. And so I don't see it as a negative how we react to it, though, quite often is negative, like, it's really easy to blame those other people and to me, then I agree with those people who are concerned about the term resistance.
Morten Andersen 22:35
Yes, I've heard that you say that we actually know what makes change work. The problem is that people don't use them. So I guess from that, I just have two questions. One is, what do we know makes change work? But also, why is it that people are not using what we already know? So what would you say to that?
Rick Maurer 22:53
There are a number of things that can make change work or not work, like we don't have the budget going in, or circumstances change all of that. What I'm looking at is if we need support, if we need people to get energy behind something and get forward momentum, we know what to do. But often we don't use it. And that gets in the way. Hmm, so I'm making a distinction. So if you're concerned about people aren't going to get on board, then I would say we miss what's right in front of us. I actually been thinking about this a lot. The last couple of years, I'm writing a really short book right now on this. In my other room, I've got a huge bookshelf full of stuff on change, project management influence at work. And as I started thinking, this stuff has been around for 25 years. Hmm, why aren't we doing it better? I mean, why am I still getting hired to talk about this stuff? There's something that all of those books, including my own, by the way, have in common, and not one of them, runs by itself. And it's like, all of those should have a little warning sticker on back that says, warning Batteries not included. By the way, the first time I ever presented my concept thinking of that way was a year and a half half ago in Copenhagen. So I really started thinking, Well, why aren't we using what we know? Hmm. Now there, I think there are some people who just don't care. It's my way or the highway. There's a guy who just died, named al Dunlap, who had who ran a couple of big companies. And his nickname was chainsaw Al, because he would go in and just do nasty things in or he would never, ever sit through a speech of mine. He would never read my book. I mean, he would be going that's way too soft. We got so there are people there. And frankly, I'm not an evangelist, so I'm not working with them. Okay. For others, though. I think there's a big, big problem is we treat and I'm gonna use the word support right now, just to really mean energy and forward momentum. So I'm not I don't mean to do some touchy feely kind of thing, you know, to reason is even though leaders say yeah, yeah, this is Important, it's often an addon.
Rick Maurer 25:02
It's often if we have time, I remember a friend of mine helped set up the change management practice in a large consulting firm. He was really good. And I know the other people who helped set it up really good. And I said, you know, a couple years later, I said, how's it going? And he said, This is awful. He said, the people really doing the change the project managers, and people from our firm will call us in when they need a break. They'll say, Hey, could you come in and do one of those team building things? Hey, could you do one of those personality things? It's like having pizza on Friday. I mean, it's, there's nothing wrong with doing any of that, except I really believe that the notion of support, the human stuff needs to be blended in. And I came up with this image that I hope you like. So I get in line at my favorite coffee shop. And invariably, there's somebody there who orders a latte. I've never once heard that person say, Hey, I'll give me a latte, but hold the milk. Because you know, you can have a latte without espresso and steamed milk. They are the two essential ingredients. And I think we need to think like good baristas and say, how do we blend the human part into what we're doing? I was working last year with an organization and the planning team has said these dreary planning meetings, you know, they were falling sub guidelines, and they would get so Okay, we've got to fill out this template, we got to fill out this. And these are the people planning it and they don't have energy. And I'm saying stuff like, Well, what about the other people? Oh, yeah, we're going to have a town hall meeting soon? Well, so that the whole human part was going to happen at that other meeting. You know, it wasn't happening for them, either. I mean, just so what I've been working on lately, that's what the new book is going to be about is how do we blend support in so that's not an extra activity. To go back to that group that was actually doing re engineering 20 years ago and said the bomb is going to drop? What they did is they said, Look, there's level one stuff we've got to cover. But let How can we do it in a way that might dissipate fear? Or actually add some excitement, enthusiasm? And how could we do it in a way that might actually begin to build their confidence and trust in us? So we're not doing a bunch of new stuff. We're not adding an extra hour and a half on and bring in balloons. And you know, we're not having a motivational speaker, we're saying, how do we do what we're already doing, but do it in a way that's lively.
Morten Andersen 27:26
In essence, you're saying, we know what is working, and actually the people doing it, also know how to do it. And I suppose maybe that's a little bit different from at home. So I'm just thinking, let's say I want to impose a change on my teenage daughters to look less at their iPads, that would be a big change. So if I wanted to cut a couple of hours of that, I know from psychology that we have a big body of knowledge about how would you do that? Well, but I guess if I asked many parents, they would not know how to do that. So they would obviously have the support from themselves, because they're the ones imposing it. They really mean it. But they may not know it. So if I think in workplace, does leader know how to build support for a change? Is that something that they know, do you think?
Rick Maurer 28:16
I think they do this? these last couple years, I've been interviewing a lot of leaders and finding out So when did when did support build or energy bill? When did it dissipate? And I'll say, Well, what was missing? And they'll tell me that and I'll go What should should the leader sit down? And they'll tell me that. So for instance, I've divided kind of the energy of change into four categories, and not to get into all four of them. The second one is the planning one, often we think that is the first one. But the first one is really has to do with do people even see a need for change. But so we do all the planning. And then from that we move into implementation, and I'm talking to a leader, and she said, You know what happens? our energy is high, we have a really generally a good leader and a good team on planning. And then moving from planning to implementation, the energy just drops off. And I said, you know, I'm thinking of a track relay race, where you spend a lot of time practicing running real fast and running out of the gate fast. And no time handing off the baton. She said, That's exactly right. So we didn't need to talk about what would you do in that case, just recognizing that, oh, we just got to pay attention to that. What amazes me is quite often is if, if we know what the potential problems are, if we simply pay attention, like, Oh, we have to keep people in the loop on that it can help us. And if it's more sophisticated than that, then that's where the books come in. That's where consulting firms come in.
Morten Andersen 29:46
Rick Maurer 29:46
but but I've really been, I've been amazed and delighted at how often leaders will say, Alright, here's the places where energy drops out. I've identified I think 22 of those places right now. And then I'll say, Well, why why did that happen? But what could they have done? And they don't even have to think about?
Morten Andersen 30:04
Yes, that's actually a really interesting concept about thinking about energy and maybe even measuring energy instead of Gantt charts. And where are we in a project plan. So measuring energy, I'm just reading right now our book, The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr. And he's talking about measuring energy rather than managing time. And I think that is a really interesting concept about how you can how you can do that on a project as well. So one thing I suppose is the same whether we're talking about a work or a private change is that trust is important. And this is really level three in your three level resistance. And trust is one of those things that if the people that you're proposing a change to if they trust you, then the whole thing is just a lot easier. And at work, I suppose that is a leader, often, at least, at home, it can be a mom or dad or, you know, in other times it can be a friend or a brother. So trust is just a very essential, very important ingredient. Now, can you tell me a little bit about you know how important trust is and also how you build trust as a person. And I'm actually using the word person rather than a leader here. So it's more attached to not to a role, but to a person as opposed to?
Rick Maurer 31:24
Well, first of all, I agree with you about how critically important it is. And often, we allow our ideas and our plans to be the thing that we we lead with whether it's two teenagers talking to each other, or a parent and our teenager or you know what it is, we get so caught up in our own ideas, that we just think the brilliance of that idea, or the need for that idea is so strong, that we don't even think about the trust issue. Hmm. So I know when I'm traveling outside the US that that trust is going to be an issue. So I need to pay attention to it. Mm hmm. You know, I haven't had a chance to talk to everybody who's going to be working with me, but I can assume that they have some preconceptions about American consultants, because they worked with them, that they might be thinking, this guy's going to be arrogant, he's going to have all the answers, the answers are going to be bad. I mean, all of that. So one of the things that I could do is, and this is a place where I noticed that I'm different than a lot of consultants only because I thought about it, consultants will often come in, and they want to show you how good they are. And so they show you their model, and, you know, a leader does that anybody with an idea that does that says, Oh, hey, here's this great thing. And it actually works better to start by using their data. Hmm, works a whole lot better for me, if I'm going to be working in an organization to say, you know, in preparation for today, you know, I sent out that two question survey. And I really appreciate your responses. And you told me about two big thing, themes that are standing out. It's I'm giving them back to their old words, okay. And I'm maybe using a PowerPoint slide. I'm not doing a big slideshow, but I'm saying I got really captivated by. So now I'm getting captivated by their stuff I'm trying to show I'm really interested in their stuff, and then maybe go into what else happened. A big thing in building trust, I think is seizing moments of possibility. After 9/11, a number of our government agencies here in the state, there was a decision that they'll all become one large organization called the Department of Homeland Security. I was working with one of those little organizations decision hasn't been made yet. But I'm working with this one organization. And they invited me to fly to San Francisco, because all the senior leaders were having a meeting. Okay, so I live in Washington, DC area. So I fly across the country. And it was just a regular yearly meeting the senior leaders, and I happen to turn on TV. And while I was getting ready, and CNN, they had breaking news on everything they do is breaking news. But they they had this breaking news, and they said oh, and they said the name of this organization has now been disbanded and will become part of the selector organization. So I why why it's interesting. So I called my client, and he said, Yeah, I said, I had to fly home last night because of this. And he said, but I said, I don't even know if it's appropriate that I go ahead. So I'm trying to say what's the energy? And and I said, Look, I people are going to be so distracted by this. I mean, it's going to be level two survival stuff, huh? I don't want to waste their time. And he said, I trust you, right. If you decide that you shouldn't do it, they'll do it. But I'd like you to go ahead, I think so. I get down to the conference room. And this is before cell phones, smartphones, so people kept going out into the hall to see the TV monitors to see what was going on. So the first two presenters were in house people and they I don't think they changed a word of their presence. And that they had had done. So it was just stuff that was just, it was well thought out. But it had nothing to do with where the audience was. So and I'm just watching this, get a break, they now introduced me. And I get up and I said, once again, I'm, I'm thinking this through in real time. Okay, I did not have in my kit bag. Oh, this is this is technique number 42. And I said, folks, what I'd like to do is just talk for like, two, three minutes, tell you what I plan to cover and find out. Does that make any sense? So, and I said, Is that okay? So I checked with that, you know, and they said, Yeah, so I said, Okay, so here are the kind of things I'll be covering bah, bah, bah, bah. And I said, Well, you just turn to the person next to you, and say, This is how we want to use our time, you know, and I was prepared for any answer they came up with, well, the place is, first of all, people are actually getting to talk to each other. It's the first time in the morning, we got to talk to each other, except on breaks. And it was just, I mean, it was really vibrant. And, and I had no idea what they're gonna say, you know, call it back together. And I said, so what do you say? They said, Oh, we need this now more than ever, because, and I said, Okay, great. We talked about how I might adapt it, and then I went ahead, but they were with me. So it's a group that didn't know me. I'm an outsider to their organization. But I think, by the way, I can tell you stories about when I blew it. So this is that
Morten Andersen 36:24
wow. No, no, no. And I guess it's a great story about when people do not know you, how do you build trust, and the two examples that you gave, one was to sort of use their example. So use their words. So it wasn't your agenda. But it was really what was on their mind, I thought that was a great example. And another example was to make sure that you always speak into the right context. So and as you could see that the context has changed. Then you also just took a timeout and said, I can see the context has changed. What do you think we should do now? And those are two, I think, incredibly powerful ways to build trust with people you don't know. And I suppose, when there are people that you, let's say that they know you very well, and you do not have trust, I'm just thinking of an example. Right now. It's literally just made up. But let's say that, for instance, that my daughter she plays in the school replay, and she every six months, she puts on a show with a school friends. And every time I say I'll show up, and I'll never do. So I'm a father who does not show up for the school plays, and she has very little trust in me. Now, you might say, Well, how do I build trust with her? Well, the first thing is to promise her that I'll come and then show up, of course. But does that mean that she will trust me? And now I'll be the father who always shows up? No, of course not. I was the father that did that once, right. So the way to build trust is to have trustworthy behavior and do it again, and again, and again and again, until it is installed within people. So I think those examples that you gave, and this one sort of tells a little bit about, also, the trust is a hard thing to build. But it is essential if you want to have a good dialogue with people.
Morten Andersen 38:18
In what monkeys do, it's a it's a podcast about change. And I would therefore like to just talk a little bit about how we can tap into your knowledge and expertise to understand how to use this to make a change. And you've already given a lot of examples. I think that's phenomenal. And I'll just take one sort of very concrete example that I know many workplaces are facing right now. So imagine that you are responsible for a group in your company. And it is to make a change on how you can work and how you can change work as a result of COVID-19. So the group, let's say it's 40 people, they in the future will now be working three days in the office and two days at home, they'll have shared desks at the office, instead of having a fixed desk will now have shared desks, will using soon for all of our meetings. And there are new procedures for hand washing, etc, etc. So a lot of small changes, which in total, will basically change the way people work. Know, the CEO has announced the change and why it's necessary. But as soon as the people are returned back to the desks, five people will start to complain that they cannot work from home because they have no desk space at home. Five will complain that they want this fixed desk they don't like the the variable desks arrangement, and many are concerned if it's a child even safe to be at work. If I'm responsible for this group of people, what what should I do What is important in that situation? What in your experience works? Well, in that case?
Rick Maurer 39:51
First of all, there's not a neat, tidy answer that I have. But I think the first thing that that leader of a group of 40 needs to do is demonstrate that he or she is passionately listening for the concerns. And so if let's say, somebody says I don't, I don't like sharing a desk, why don't we use this desk here, as the leader of that group? I think what's critical is that you understand what they're saying, and why they're saying it. But often, we think we got to make a promise right now, or we've got to tell them why they're wrong right now. And I would say, when people feel like they've been listened to, and I'm not talking about a manipulative thing here, but people really feel taken in taking them via the wrong phrase that people go, Wow, he gets it, she gets it, or better yet, she gets me is a big thing, it opens up the door to conversation. Hmm. So there might be possibility of conversation, say, Look, my hands are kind of tied right now, as a leader, but, you know, here's where we have a little bit of play, would you work with me, let me give you an example that that might fit. I was working in a health care organization, and there's a thing in some of our, that's legal in some of our states and not in others. And that's that unskilled workers can take on simple nursing tasks for drawing blood changing a simple wound dressing, that sort of thing. And this hospital had made an executive decision, we're gonna do that. We're gonna, we're gonna hire these people. And I was talking to the head of nursing, who's just one of my all time favorite clients. And she said, You know, my nurses are really not going to like this a lot. She said, but it's an executive decision. I'm part of the executive team I'm with and she said, I don't want to get up in front of 350, nurses and talk, because she said, basically, I'll be talking, and they'll be listening. And she said, Could you help me design something where we're doing, you know, work can be more of a conversation. And so we did. It was like 90 minute meetings, maximum 30 people. And the basic thing is, she would get up, and her assistant would get up, and they'd say, look, here's the decision that's been made. Here's what it's going to start, here's where it's gonna start. It was real clear, that's not negotiable. Okay. But then she said, you know, but I really like to hear, you know, your reactions to this, like, is there a way that we can do this and make it work for all of us? Yes. And in the first meeting, we had 11 of these meetings over a three day period. And I told her, I said, this is a real mistake. I mean, you know, by the 10th meeting, you are going to be so burned out that you're going to go by here, that stupid question again. And she said, I know that's a risk, but we got to take it. She was so brilliant. I mean, by the end of 11th, she was still fresh. So the first meeting, we get done, we're now be breathing. And she said, How do you think it went? And I said, Well, they asked a lot of level one questions. You gave a lot of level one answers, like, when will that be starting? Well, that'd be on July 15. How you know, what department? And I said, That's not why we're here. I don't think why she said, I think they're afraid. So what are they afraid of their jobs? I said, Okay, by all means, answer their level one questions, but then speculate. So in the next meeting, everybody knew she was a trained nurse herself. So people started saying, well, when will that July 15 be happy thing happened to all that'd be on July 15. You know, that sort of. And I remember she took a step forward, and said, you know, if I was in your shoes right now, I'd be scared. And people saw bodies move. And she said, You know, there's absolutely no guarantee that I can give that. And it was and we're in a competitive marketplace. There are a lot of hospitals around. But I'm wondering, is there a way that we could do this, where we actually are strengthening our employment possibilities, so I can't make a promise when any of you be willing to work with me? So here's where it realized. We could relate directly to that. And once again, she's not making profits. She's saying, Would you work with me? And she then over the course, means her two other things like that. One was from licensed nurses, they said, if these people mess up,
Rick Maurer 44:05
it's my license.
Rick Maurer 44:06
It's in jeopardy. And I remember she said, You know, I never thought of that. You're absolutely right. Would you be willing to work with me and see how can we give them the training and support they need? So she was always using what could have been in your face resistance and saying, is there a way? She's not making promise? But is there a way that we could work together? And I could see that being a thing you could do face to face or virtually? Yes, I would rather do it in smaller groups rather than off 45 at once, but
Morten Andersen 44:37
and you you point to a fantastically important thing, which is to listen, I almost feel compelled to suggest to you that you should add a level zero to your three levels of resistance, which is I'm not being heard, because that's almost easier than giving the right answers that is just sitting down. Have a cup of coffee and say I'm listening A lot of resistance will actually, you don't even have to explain something. You don't even have to promise anything. But some resistance. Not all, of course, but some resistance will actually go away if people just being hurt. So that's a great, great thing to say, on what monkeys do we always end up with do's and don'ts. And I sort of asked if, if a listener is faced with imposing a change on somebody, what three advice would you give, and you've actually just given the first two, which is the first one is to listen, and I really want to stick with that, because that's a phenomenal advice. And the other one was to engage, see if you can work with that person, and find solutions within the boundaries of what is negotiable? What would the third one be if you should come with three advice?
Rick Maurer 45:47
Well, let's just say one more thing about the second one, is it's really important if you're going to engage with people about so how could we do this better than that the boundaries are real clear, okay, fact that we're going to be moving headquarters to Brussels, that's a done deal. It's got to be within our control to do something, or else, we could spend a lot of time talking about this system and that, and people just, it just drains energy. So a very big thing is the ability to see the world through the eyes of the people who you're trying to influence that model, the level one, level two, and level three, helps me a lot. And it helps my clients. And if they want to add a level zero, fine. I don't care. But but it's that we have some way of going, Oh, yeah, if I was in their shoes, I think that allows us to bring humanity into the mix.
Morten Andersen 46:43
Fantastic. Thank you for all of your insights, and especially all of the examples I felt that was they were really, really good. So thanks a lot for your time and for taking the time to do this interview, Rick.
Rick Maurer 46:54
Oh, it's a pleasure. I really enjoyed it. Thanks. Thank you.
Morten Andersen 47:01
What a great conversation with Rick, I learned a lot from the interview and took in particular three things away with me. One, people resist for a good reason. If you're trying to change someone else, you should expect the reaction. often they're happy and will embrace the change. But people may also resist because they're bad, or that there's something wrong with them. Think of it as a natural reaction for them in that particular case. So instead, try to understand that their reaction makes sense from their point of view, there is a good reason. And in fact, there are three good reasons for why people might resist one, they don't get it. So it's a lack of information. Two, they don't like it, it's an emotional reaction. And three, they don't like you, relational reaction. Second point, always start by listening. It is obvious, and it is always forgotten. So let's remind ourselves, you should always listen to the people you're trying to change and be humble. You may think you know what they are trying to say. Or you may think you know what they mean? But many times you miss understand. And so ask clarifying questions, first seek to understand then to be understood, as Stephen Covey wrote, and the third point, feel the energy. We often think of projects in terms of timelines, and Gantt charts and sprints and gates. And that's all well and good, but maybe we should also think about energy, energy towards the change. At what level? Are people energized towards the change? Is the energy positive or negative? Those questions are as relevant as Where are we on the Gantt chart now? If you did like the interview, and want to hear more, please press the subscribe button. Also, if you did like the interview, I will appreciate if you will give the podcast a five star feedback. It helps a lot for our reach. Until next time, take care