How to convince people to be proactive
Problems are bound to arise when working together.
It is irrelevant whether you call them problems or challenges. Falling into motivational inspirational “speakers” euphemisms and renaming problems as challenges does not change anything on the matter (the same applies if you throw in the word mindset).
Problem awareness is essential and should not only be present among managers. Often, however, those say that employees have less or even no understanding of problems. Whether this statement is remotely true is more than questionable.
What are the phases of problem awareness, and how can you influence them?
Employees do not see a problem.
This aspect often happens due to a lack of qualitative leadership. People are interested in tackling problems, solving them, and obtaining a better working environment. However, if poor leadership has often shown that commitment to the issue is not positively appreciated, people will give up on addressing those problem areas. Various examples of leadership issues in this field are addressed in the podcast (see below for details).
Employees see a small problem.
The trivialisation of problems happens mainly when the consequence of addressing them is a task that has to be added to the already existing workload. Often, the person who brings the problem first experiences adverse effects. Has this happened in your organisation? If so, it is crucial to have extended conversations, address any wrongdoing in the past and proactively create a more respectful environment that properly acknowledges addressing problems.
Employees see an unchangeable problem.
This phase is often accompanied by phrases such as “The market doesn’t allow it” or “We’ve never done it that way before”. Statements here are based exclusively on anecdotes. There is no fact-based evidence. Here it is vital to work with benchmarking or market observation methods. The facts will show that others are working on that problem, and you must do the same. If facts cannot influence employees, you clearly indicate which people are unsuitable for any form of responsible work.
Employees see a problem, but only others can solve it.
Statements such as “The people at the top have to deal with this” or “We can’t influence what the ivory tower at the head office does anyway” are often heard here. However, this is an excuse to divert attention from another matter: the lack of (personal) advantage(s) in problem participation. The question of “What do I get out of it?” must be answered very early. Statements like “act for the greater good” or a simple thank you are not enough here. In social organisations, these phrases may work because there is already a different motivation from the beginning. In profit-oriented organisations, however, you need to show the benefit for the person acting proactively.
Employees see a problem and want to act.
This stage is the result of successful work in phases one to four. The more successful and sustainable you have been in these phases, the more proactive employees will be concerning problem awareness in the future.
Read more about problem awareness
in this week’s podcast: Apple Podcast / Spotify.
Do you care about the topic of excellent and sustainable organisational leadership?
Let’s talk: NB@NB-Networks.com.