Team Is Not Adopting New Practices

May 10, 2021
Team Is Not Adopting New Practices - Conversations Worth Having

Monday Kickstarters is a working session designed for everyone on the call to figure out how to have conversations worth having when faced with a tough situation, challenge, or problem. The process is based upon the book, Conversations Worth Having.

You can listen to this session on Vimeo.

Monday, May 10 we framed (Issue #1) a conversation for talking with a manager who’s style is problematic and who doesn’t see it that way and (Issue #2) we generated questions to foster a conversation worth having with a team who is compliant with a change process project, but not motivated to adopt new practices. We also heard a Quick Story: how Michael Emmart is teaching child welfare staff to ask generative questions about how their departments are fostering race equity. Listen to the end of the video to hear his story.

Giving Feedback About Someone’s Managerial Style

  • Name it: One of my direct reports, a department head, has a very dictatorial management style that is causing low morale. She doesn’t see it that way. I am struggling to talk to her about this without making her defensive.

We decided it would be a good idea to begin the conversation with generative questions; to make visible what the manager is thinking and how she sees things. (Michael pointed out that generative questions are a great supervisory tool.)

Additional Generative Question:

  • I’ve heard that managers should manage projects and programs, and they should lead people. What does that mean to you? What do you think the differences are and how does it show up in the way projects and people are treated?


Some of these questions might also be asked of the team. And the manager herself might learn how best to lead her staff by finding out from them what helps them be their best. For example, she might ask each person independently: (1) Think back over all the managers and supervisors you’ve had in your life. Choose one with whom you most resonated and tell me about an experience with that person that epitomizes their leadership style. What did you value about them? How did they bring out the best in you? (2) What suggestions do you have for me to help bring out the best in you? This would help the manager learn and grow AND send a positive message to the staff. She might bring what she learned back and have a conversation with her manager about what she learned and what she might do with that information.

Compliant but Unmotivated to Change

  • Name it: My team is compliant with our division’s change process project, but they are not motivated to adopt the new practices.
  • Flip it: My team is motivated to adopt the new practices.
  • Frame it: The team embraces the new practices, productivity has gone up, and  leadership sees what the team is accomplishing!

Other possible frames:

  • The team is fully on board and bought into the new practices.
  • Our team owns the new practices completely. They are ALL IN!
  • The team embraces the new practices and productivity has gone up.
  • We get it and we’ve got it!
  • Our leadership on the new practices is getting attention from leadership.


(1) From Buy-in to Ownership. Marty Chaffee shared: The term ‘buy-in’ infers a sales pitch. No one likes a sales pitch. What we really want is ownership.

(2) Crickets. If you raise questions at the team level and no one responds, ask people to pair up or form triads and have them answer the questions in small groups. They can then share highlights from their conversation without being on the spot. And, as Marty added, “introverts need to try out their thoughts before they speak publicly.”


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