Addressing Team Stubbornness

Do you feel like you leading a team of mules instead of people? Are your team members so entrenched in doing things as they have always done them that they stubbornly refuse to change or improve? Are you addressing the team's demands more frequently than they are acquiescing to yours? There are five human needs upon which stubbornness is based:

1. Affection: People get stubborn when they feel unsafe, unloved, or unwanted. Provide each team member with ample evidence that their safety will not be compromised, that others feel affection towards them, and that their contribution is wanted and valued.

2. Affiliation: People act stubbornly when they feel alone or isolated. Show them that you understand where they are coming from, and let them know that others feel much the same as they do about issues of importance in both the world and the workplace.

3. Acknowledgement: People get stubborn when they don't feel noticed, valued or appreciated. Acknowledge the team's good ideas, useful actions, and effective contributions on an ongoing basis.

4. Input: People become stubborn when they feel they don't have a voice. Encourage entrenched team members to give their input into the situation at hand and incorporate as many of their suggestions as possible into getting the job done.

5. Self-worth: People become stubborn when they lack self-confidence or appropriate appreciation of their own worth. Point out the person's successes and don't accept self-effacing information without countering it with an empowering message.

Generally speaking, stubbornness is rooted in fear. People reject new learning, new challenges and unfamiliar requests if they fear they will look foolish when trying to deliver. Give permission for mistakes and encourage fearful folks to laugh at their own clumsiness by modelling like behaviour when you goof up. Provide a safety net before asking stubborn team members to behave in ways they view as risky, and you will soon notice the stubbornness melting away.

By getting all team members together in a relaxed environment you can encourage all team members to be heard. Or you could take part in some fun activities which require input from all team members, such as Enter the Dragons Lair, Pop Music Promo and Movie Creation.


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