Why Your Best Performers Hate Your Great Idea

You’re convinced you’ve got a great idea that you know will yield breakthrough results. So you call the team together to announce the new direction.But instead of being met with a spirited “game on,” your top performers are staring at you with a bewildered look and you’re pretty sure your operations manager just texted WTF to your admin. Are they resistant to change or just laggards on the change curve? How do you ensure your best performers are with you? What if it’s not them, but you?

4 Reasons Your Best Performers Hate Your Great Idea

If your best performers are just not picking up the great idea you’re putting down, check to see if any of these issues are at play.

1. They question your motives

The best way to ensure your team trusts your motives is to question them yourself first.Is your great idea really an edict you’re passing along from above that you know won’t work, but you’re too afraid to speak up? Are you creating a lot of extra work to make a project look good without adding significant value to your customers? Are you asking your team to put energy into a pet project that is distracting them from their most important priorities?

2. They’re still actively working to make your last great idea work.

I recently met with “Greg,” a sales manager with a rock-star track record who described the soul-sucking problem with this analogy.So imagine your boss tells you that the best way to win is to run up against that brick wall over there ten times and by the tenth time you should get through. You trust your boss, she’s smart, and you figure she’s in this job for a reason. So you run at the wall. By the seventh time, you realize you’re just getting banged up, so you take a step back and try to figure out some new ways to approach the wall. By the tenth time, you’re making some progress, but the wall isn’t down. You don’t want to let your boss down, so you get even more creative.And on the fifteenth time, you break through. But she’s not looking. She’s given up on that idea and moved on to the next thing. When you say, “Hey look over here! I figured it out!” She says, “Why are you still using that old methodology? We’re doing this now. Why are you so resistant to change?” “Greg, your peers are watching you, can’t you please do what I ask?” Not one ounce of credit for making her first idea work.

3. Your great idea is a great idea, but it won’t work here.

If one of your managers has cracked the code, you think, “Why not REQUIRE EVERYONE to do it the same way, and exponentially improve your results?” I get it, I really do. When I was in my sales exec role at Verizon, I had 110 stores and 2200 employees. When I found one rock star blowing away quota, I wanted nothing more than to clone that behavior as fast as I could. And sometimes that worked like a charm (watch here to learn more),I’m a HUGE believer in uncovering and sharing best practices. And yet, real success in this area requires what I call a humility loop. The great idea can become even stronger when you allow for variations on the theme. I quickly learned that no matter how brilliantly the best practice worked in Washington, DC, it was doubtful the exact same approach would work in our log cabin store in Cedar Bluff, VA.Related: 6 Reasons Your Staff Keeps You in the Dark

4. Your great idea makes sense conceptually, but…

One of the biggest mistakes we see well-intentioned, gung-ho leaders make is requiring large-scale execution on an idea before thinking through the details. Great ideas do no good if they don’t work in real life. If your best performers are resistant, slow down enough to figure out why. Ask questions like:
  • How’s everyone feeling about this idea?
  • How do you think our customers will respond to this change?
  • What do you think are the biggest challenges we will face making this happen?
  • What do we need to consider to ensure this will be a huge success?
  • It’s true that many times even your best performers are resistant to change. After all, if it’s working, why try something new? We all know how dangerous that thinking can be. Real progress requires innovative thinkingand the courage to try new things. And yet, assuming the resistance is unfounded is another slippery slope. Taking the time to truly understand the pushback and using humility loops to refine your plan, can go a long way to ensure your idea has the support it needs for long-term success. Your turn.

    How do you engage your best performers when launching a new idea?

    Have you read Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results– Without Losing Your Soul?You can also download our FREE toolkit and book group facilitator’s guide here.