Change Them Please
Are you tearing out your managerial hair over employees who just won’t change – especially the ones who are clearly smart, skilled, and deeply committed to your company and your plans for improvement? Before you throw up your hands in frustration, listen to recent psychological research:
Your valued employees aren’t purposefully subversive or resistant. Instead, they may be unwittingly caught in a competing commitment —a subconscious, hidden goal that conflicts with their stated commitments. For example: A project leader dragging their feet has an unrecognized competing commitment to avoid tougher assignments that may come their way if they deliver too successfully on the current project. ‘Bob, you did so great on the last project, I’d like you to start/take over Project X.’ Bob hears, ‘blah-blah, hooray good job, let me move the goal post for you, because I have no faith in Steve, cuz you know Steve sucks.’
Competing commitments make people personally immune to change. Worse, they can undermine your best employees’, and your company’s, success. If the thought of tackling these hidden commitments strikes you as a psychological shit pile, you’re not alone. However, you can help employees uncover and move beyond their competing commitments without having to “put them on the shelf.” Lead them!
When you lead them, you’ll be challenging your employees’ deepest psychological foundations and questioning their longest-held beliefs.