Sometimes when you’re involved in a change project the people who seem the most supportive in the beginning turn out to be anything but supportive.

Last night one of my Bayard colleagues told me that when he explained to one of his client’s senior managers about the project he was planning and the benefits that it would bring, the manager was very supportive.

“Harley, you can’t imagine he was keen to learn more, he listened well and he nodded with (what I took to be) support and enthusiasm. But here I am now ten months later with my team on the point of delivery and he’s turned into a monster. Nothing is right. He’s complaining about this and complaining about that. He has even, at times, become quite aggressive and anything but helpful. I just don’t know what’s gone wrong”!

I told my colleague that I have observed this many times. At the beginning of projects we spend so much time with the resistors that we take any supportive person as a blessing and tend not to give them the attention they deserve. Now I am not saying this was the case here but, maybe this guy got left behind? Maybe in the beginning he really did agree with the idea but it was very high level.

Now it’s becoming real, he can see exactly how the project will impact on him and his people and he doesn’t like it.  Perhaps you didn’t tell him the real why of the project: to find efficiency gaps in the teams and to expose over resourcing across departments?

Give me resistant people any day, I prefer them, at least you always know where they’re coming from!

My colleague and I discussed his particular situation in some depth and we came to conclusion that he would speak with the difficult manager one to one, to be open but firm with him. To let him know that like it or not he would deliver and that although he would rather deliver with his support, he would still deliver without it. The goal would be to try and bring the difficult manager on side. And he would do this firstly by working out what exactly was on in his mind, by seeing it from his point of view and his only.

My regular readers will know by now, that I believe that in these situations it is a waste of time to reflect on your opinion because it is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what the resistor thinks and to come up with a custom built strategy to turn him around.  

Tomorrow my colleague will send his difficult manager m an email with the title “I didn’t want to bring this up in the meeting yesterday but…”  And with the right body text (short but intriguing) he should get the half an hour face to face meeting he needs.  I bet that by the time it is finished the two of them might not be hugging but I am sure that the situation will be much, much better. And with a little bit of trust reinforcement it will get back on track again. How do I know this?  Because I have seen my colleague in action before – and once he he’s found the right angle, he never fails 

So hug your resistors and never take for granted unnaturally open and positive supporters, in time they may well become your worst nightmare!  As we all know; even good children end up behaving badly if they see the bad ones getting all the attention. Who knows what is on the mind of my colleague’s client? All I hope for is that by the end of the day, I will!

Have a good week,