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How to Convince Coworkers to Try Something New

Get tips on persuading people to try new techniques for improving process.

By
Stever Robbins
October 6, 2009
Episode #103

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Today’s topic is how to get your co-workers on board with working less and doing more..

How to Get Co-Workers to Do Something New

Listener Brian calls in:

Hi Stever –When I try to implement these concepts, my coworkers say they’re just overhead. They say agendas kill flow and creativity. They say we’re all smart people so we’ll just get everything done. How do I deal?

Well, Brian, now you know why I’ve been unpopular at past jobs. I was once sent to learn Total Quality Management along with the senior vice presidents of the company. When we got back, I said, “Let’s implement some of what we learned.” The veeps explained, “We’re smart people. Now that we have the information, we’ll just sort of do it.”

Thank goodness for your smart colleagues! They’re spending their time and effort coming up with bureaucratic, hypothetical arguments instead of just trying something new to see if it works. That’s what smart people do. They don’t actually try new things. They think about trying them. Then they learn from the experience, which they never actually have, except in their imaginations. And because they’re so good at turning their ideas into real world outcomes, smart people always automatically do the right thing. Smart people know about exercise, diet, and self-care. That’s why they’re all thin, healthy, in great shape, and stress-free. No, smart people are a total wreck, because they’ve never learned to be wrong and ask for help. The famous article Teaching Smart People How to Learn by Chris Argyris covers this in detail.

Process Has a Bad Rap

Your colleagues pooh-pooh new ideas, saying you’re too “process-oriented.” That is a bad thing? “Process” means you’re paying attention to how you do something. Content is what you’re doing. Bernice and I decided to eat better. I did it by buying healthy food. Bernice did it by buying a case of Twinkies and putting them on her counter, under the theory that she would develop the willpower to say “No.” Some processes work; others don’t. Hers doesn’t. I’ve lost three inches of waistline and look like a sexy version of Zac Efron. Bernice is ankle-deep in Twinkie wrappers and resembles a sexy version of the Death Star.

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