Five Ways to Deal With Reluctant or Resistant People

Do you get sullen stares and crossed arms in your staff meetings or individual accountability meetings? Or do people politely agree with you and then keeping using the same work habits that are keeping them and your company stuck? If you’re going to achieve more workplace accountability, you’re going to have to meet this reluctance and resistance head on.

Remember the golden rule of accountability: As the leader or managing partner of a law firm, accounting firm or professional services firm, the buck starts with YOU. You can’t change your people, you can only change yourself and how you interact with them.

Here are five things you CAN do to deal with reluctant or resistant people in your firm:

1) Find out what they’re reluctant or resistant to

Is it the coaching approach? Is it the concept of accountability? Is it apprehension because they’ve seen other new management techniques come and go? You may be surprised at the real reason behind their ambivalence.

2) Change your language

If people don’t relate to the terms accountability or coaching, call it something else! Ask them how they would describe the process and then use words they’re comfortable with.

3) Enroll them in the process

Help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish and acknowledge that this is new for you both. Explain that you’re accountable too, and that they can let you know when you’re not living up to your end of the deal. Make it okay for both of you to make mistakes.

4) Set up a trial period

Ask them to give you 60 days to judge whether they’re receiving value from the process (here is a quickie template for that conversation). Assure them that if they’re not getting anything out of the sessions they don’t have to continue.

5) Ask for feedback in EVERY meeting

Use the quickie conversation template (#16) to find out exactly what they found valuable about the session, and how you could do better next time. You can even ask them to rate you on a scale of 1 to 10.

BONUS TIP – The Sandwich: While you definitely want to address any issues of reluctance or resistance, you can sandwich those parts of the conversation between positive praise and acknowledgment for things that are going well.

Have you ever encountered resistant people in your firm? How have you handled it? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Have you ever felt reluctant to try something yourself? How did you get over it? Post a comment below or send your thoughts to me personally.