Mental Note 1:
People don’t like to be told why something is happening if they don’t care for it
It’s true, I reflected… If Sam shares passionately about how the next Visual Studio release by Microsoft is going to change the coding lives of the developers on team, Manu from Marketing is going to reply to an “urgent” email that he had to attend to in the middle of the meeting or read through his updates for the meeting prepping to make his impact next.
“Teams go down just because they don’t appreciate what the other person is doing, though they may all be working for the same goal of the same organization. And this blows into a blame-game over time”
We see this often in the corporate world – Operations says IT is a joke, IT thinks HR is a waste of time, HR thinks Finance is a drain on efficiency and so on.
I run a start-up and we are a team of 2 non-techies and 4 techies. We have team meetings – the share-news-over-lunch kinds – where we share the latest in our fields and we face this challenge every day. How do I make what I do or the latest in my field relevant to this audience? It has been difficult – people forget to read or start with “I read only technical stuff over the weekend…”
But we are persisting – with the noble intent of enabling some cross-pollination of course, and more simply, some empathy.
“I don’t need you to agree with or be interested in what I do. All I want you to do is to appreciate that what I do is important for the company too and understand that it can also be challenging sometimes.”
That’s really all we want.
John P Kotter is one of the latest people to influence my thinking deeply. His work on change leadership I think is game-changing and I find the resistance to his work itself truly fascinating. More on that later. But in the context of people caring for what you are saying to them, he makes an important point. He says, a message cannot be only about the head. It has to be about the heart to.
How profoundly simple. I am not going to come home on time because my parents want me to or because “good girls don’t stay out late”. But I might make an effort at getting home sooner if I have a show on TV that matters to me or I know my parents will be worried about my safety or something else that pulls a heart string. Similarly, people don’t want to “right-size” and ask their directs to leave simply because they are managers and that’s what the organization wants to do. But they might be more willing to do it if they have seen the organization struggle and visibly make every effort it can to keep people back before it took this decision. It’s not only about hard facts and cold logic. We have to appeal to the heart.
Conclusion: Make people care for what you are saying by empathizing with them and connecting with their hearts through your message.