That’s how we get it done

On a recent trip with my family to an indoor water park I found myself standing in line with a man and his young son, who were next in line to go down one of the slides. There was a hitch, though. The boy didn’t want to go down. The lifeguard tried to reassure the little guy, telling him that it wasn’t scary. The dad was reassuring to his son, telling him what I assume was that it would be ok and that he would be in the back half of the two-person tube. However, I think it is safe to assume that the boy was not convinced since he shook his head violently and raised the volume on his protest a couple of notches. After a moment the dad picked up the boy, tossed him over his shoulder, climbed into the tube and down they went. As I watched this scene unfold, a man who was next in line, laughed out loud, pulled at his trucker cap, stroked his unkempt beard and said, “yep! That’s how we get it done!”

Now before you start with the nasty letters and comments, let me be clear on one thing: this is a blog about HR, not child-rearing, so I am not condoning or criticizing this man’s techniques.  Though I do feel the need to point one thing out – the goal was accomplished; the man and his son went down the slide.  So, my question to you is: when you run into challenges getting your initiatives implemented, or you are faced with difficult conversations, how do you get it done?  Do you talk with your team, reassure them, let them know the reason behind the initiative? Do you look to show additional data or bring others into the conversation who can help with the message you are looking to convey? What if you still have resistance?  Do you throw up your hands and walk all the way back down the steps, bumping everyone else in line with your tube, or do you (figuratively) throw your reluctant team members over your shoulder and go down the slide?  

I would argue that just going down the slide, team members wailing along, is usually going to be the better choice.  Is it a guarantee that you are going to have a positive result?  Of course not.  This is an HR blog, after all, I don’t make any guarantees!  There is always the possibility that, as you come shooting out of the tube at the end of the slide, that your kid, or members of your team, are going to go find Mom, who could be an angry wife, or an angry boss.  On the flip side you may have someone who is happy that the process is successfully done, or that you did let the team know so that everyone can move to the next phase.

There are risks – the boy in question may end up in therapy, though I highly doubt it. More than likely he will come away having had a lot of fun and wanting to do it again. While therapy may not be on the radar for your team (I could be wrong), and while the difficult conversation, or change in process, or whatever “it” is may not be something they are all that anxious to repeat, the likelihood that they will respect you for being straight with them and moving the ball forward is more likely.

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