On a recent drive across town to run an errand my 7-year-old son sat in the back seat and threw a tantrum. “I don’t want to go to the store. I want to go home!” Undeterred, I grit my teeth and drove forward. My son was going whether he liked it or not.
Professionals who don’t like the direction they have to go disguise their tantrums, of course. Sophisticated colleagues don’t kick and scream (generally speaking).
However, their disapproval is thinly veiled. It’s not uncommon for teammates to articulate what they don’t like about where the market, the organization or the team is going:
- I don’t like working virtually
- Well, I don’t like working at the office
- I don’t like MS Teams
- Well, I don’t like Webex
- I don’t like our digital strategy
- I don’t like the D&I initiative
- I don’t like how my boss runs her meetings
- I don’t like…I don’t like…I don’t like…
Worse than merely saying we don’t like something, however, is the effect our words have when we speak them: 1) Our voice joins a chorus of others who dislike the direction and 2) We bring less than our best to the effort.
It’s well documented that employees who are energized about a particular change are far more likely to bring their best. Yet, obviously we’re not going to like all changes. Which means we must ask ourselves: As a professional, is liking a change the criteria I use to determine if I’ll bring my best?
Consider this: If we make “liking something” the primary criteria for determining whether or not we bring our best – we are at high risk of disqualifying ourselves as leaders or productive teammates.
The fact is: We are all going into the future whether we like it or not. Those who go forward begrudgingly will be moved aside – as those who create the future do not hold grudges.
To be certain, we don’t have to like the change in front of us. We must, however, fully own the plan and contribute to its success.
It’s worth asking the team:
- Are our discussions regarding what we don’t like productive?
- What do we expect of ourselves when we don’t like the change which we’re responsible for delivering?
The fact remains: The only way we shape the future into one we do like is by fully participating in its creation.