Where Does Pushback for Change Come From?
The question that I was asked was actually, "How to handle a coworker or employee of a client whose need for approval is so great, it's counter productive?". Need for approval is the most common weakness that we find in salespeople and it can interfere with relationships whether sales situations or not.
"When a candidate needs approval from prospects, their need to be liked, and in extreme cases, loved, is greater than their need to close business."
However, a need for approval can manifest in other ways and in other areas of life. Think about the brilliance of Facebook's "like" button. Please like me! I need you to like me! Please, I may cry if you don't like me! See this 'Silly List of Likes' if you don't believe me.
Think about this. Why do people tell you that they are "best selling authors", do they need you to like them for that? I knew a guy that used to be sure that people knew that he was "a six-time Pulitzer Prize nominee". Honestly, the first thing that I thought was that he was a six time loser. Remember Susan Lucci? She was nominated for best actress 19 times before she won. (Check out 5:50. Do you think that's NFA?) Why do body builders do what they do? Why do skinny people think they're fat? Why do we buy status symbols, certain cars or houses in the right neighborhood? Look at the possible meanings of "Know thyself". Is it referring to people who think that they are more than they are or is it referring to people who's self image is a function of public opinion?
So, back to the question. "What to do when a someone's need for approval gets in the way of working together." First, understand what they're feeling. (Yes. feeling rather than thinking.)
Smart, Educated, Successful, Important People
When someone is more experienced, more educated or more tenured than you and they have need for approval, they'll need you to acknowledge and accept it. If they are less experienced, less educated or less tenured and they have need for approval, they'll need to be acknowledged and accepted that they are important too. What else? Remember that they didn't buy you. Huh?
Remember, their boss, the person that probably hired them hired you because the boss had a need that current employees couldn't fill. So, you may be feeling lucky to have a job or a new client, but your colleague may be seeing you as the person that their boss hopes will save the company and they may be remembering that when they got hired, the boss told them that they expected big things from them and they may be worried that the boss is disappointed with them and that you will displace them figuratively, if not literally.
So, what's the fix? Let me offer you a few questions to get the conversation going.
- Did (boss's name) talk with you about me before they hired me?
- Do you see us as competitors or collaborators?
- Have you looked at (what I was hired to do)?
- Did you try to fix it or have you thought about how you would approach it?
- How does what I do impact what you do or vice versa?
Now, if you know me you know that I am not at all afraid of confrontation and I'll often start with confrontation just to get it out of the way, but in this case, I'd prefer to get my co-worker's brain engaged and their emotions turned off. When they state a position or opinion, I can't ask them to "defend" their position. Rather, I need to ask curiously, "interesting, how might that go?" Deflective questions will keep the conversation intellectual and helpful. Bottom line is get data that helps you do your job. If you are praised, pass the credit to the source of the data, especially if it's your co-worker.
How do you face this head on as an entreprenuer? Can you objectively assess who has a need for approval or other weaknesses that may get in the way of your business growth? Do you find that the more you try to align your sales, marketing and service teams, the more friction that seems to come up? Do you have a written strategy and action plan to help your employees make the necessary changes for you to take your business to the next level?