Why won’t your team embrace change that you know will improve their performance? You’ve explained what they need to do and they may have even agreed to do it. And then nothing happens, they continue to operate as they have done before. What is hardest to understand is when they agree and still don’t adopt the change required.
A common response is to double down and repeat what is required clearly and more forcefully. It must be they didn’t understand or they need some extra motivation. Pushing harder doesn’t make a difference, in fact things get worse as you and they get more frustrated. If you’ve ever been in this situation, I’m sure you know what I mean.
Let’s assume the team is motivated to improve their performance. What could be getting in the way? Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, gives us a clue in his book when he describes task relevant maturity. This is usually considered for the solo performer, but it is equally valid for teams. Task relevant maturity (TRM) states you need to match your management style to the task related maturity of the people doing the work. Your team may be excellent at some things having high TRM. In contrast, the same team may have low TRM when you are asking them to adopt something new. It requires you to adopt a different management style to be effective.
Task Relevant Maturity and related management styles
Andy describes three different management styles related to three levels of task maturity:
- Low – Directive: Describe in detail what has to be done and how to do it, and monitor performance carefully
- Medium – Coach: Develop competency by asking questions to generate insight and build on what they know
- High – Delegate: Make a clear request of what is needed and be available in case issues come up
If your team is learning something new, their task maturity is low. You need to give them clear guidance until they learn enough for you to switch to a coaching style. Ultimately you will be able to delegate the task when they’ve become fully competent.
Are you using the appropriate management style?
When your team is motivated but not changing, it’s time to review the management style you are using. Since your team is highly competent at many things, it is easy to start with a delegation style. This creates a big problem because a delegation style isn’t going to help them learn. If they don’t know what they need to learn, they will never be able to learn it.
If you switch to a coaching style, you might see a little more progress but not as much as you need. This is a sign you need to move to a directive style. A client made this change by introducing a template for their team to help them adopt a new process. It called out each step, giving them the guidance needed to learn how to do the tasks. A template is an excellent directive management tool. A good one provides enough guidance without becoming overbearing.