I recently took part in a fascinating research project to develop a strategy for using technology effectively in teaching and learning. While interviewing practitioners I was privileged to discover innovative practice by inspirational trainers but also came across some scared and negative staff. The naysayers.
Most HR professionals will have come across naysayers in their work. They are usually in the minority and though they may rage against the system they have little effect, but at worst their negative influence can be insidious, derailing a business's plans for change.
So how do you respond to naysayers?
Listen to them. The naysayers want to be heard. Give them a forum and when you consult, consult properly. Don't just pay lip service. Identify the most influential naysayers and talk to them individually. Make a record of their opinion and try to respond to it in any action you take. With a little individual attention to make them feel included, your greatest critics can turn into your biggest fans.
Ensure they understand why the training is needed and what is in it for them. If the naysayer understands the relevance and has a grasp of the big picture, they are much more likely to comply. Too often change is explained on a need to know basis.
But do respect their opinion. Your naysayers may have a valid point. Unfortunately much L&D work is driven by a need to improve efficiency and cut costs. The naysayer will recognise straight away if the initiative is going to make their job harder or is simply ticking some L&D box.
Finally, if you are still unable to persuade your naysayers, use peer pressure. Find the enthusiasts and early adopters in your organisation and get them on board. They will be your greatest advocates. Use a little social engineering when arranging meetings and training sessions to make sure your naysayers are outnumbered in the group by these enthusiasts. Use your intranet to promote the positive responses from your more enthusiastic staff.
Contact us for advice on handling the naysayers in your organisation.
Catherine Sellars, Editor
Supporting innovation in teaching and learning
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