NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

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How To Stop Skepticism In The Workplace

November 4, 2019

We have surveyed thousands of leaders and one of the top challenges revealed is:

How to stop skepticism in the workplace.

NextMapping survey

The dizzying pace of change in technology and business makes it difficult to keep workers engaged in creating the future.

Workers are challenged with ongoing change and do not trust their leaders or the direction of the business. Attitudes such as cynicism, sarcasm and ‘here we go again’ by workers can slow down the best change leadership efforts towards driving change.

The top reasons why workers are skeptical are:

  1. They have seen initiatives get started and then lose steam and so they become apathetic about ‘new’ initiatives
  2. They have seen leaders try to sell a major change without involving workers or asking for input.
  3. They have been told that NEW technology is going to make everything better.
  4. Change is forced upon workers without a focus on engaging workers in the change on a one on one basis.
  5. There is a culture of distrust – workers are doubtful that leaders have their interests and wellbeing in mind.
  6. There has not been a focus on coaching and guiding workers to be successful with the upcoming change.

The solutions to skepticism in the workplace lie in leadership, change leadership and creating an engaged workplace culture.

There is a psychological component at play in workplace cultures. People will respond to being included, being asked for input and being valued.

Cynism and skepticism are products of people feeling like nobody cares.

Here are the keys on how to stop skepticism in the workplace:

  1. Invest in future-ready leadership development – help leaders increase his or her coaching and mentoring skills so that they can have better quality interactions with their team members.
  2. Commit to a consistent performance culture – set an expectation that performance is rewarded. This means dealing with the nonperforming negative workers with clear expectations and holding him or her accountable to their impact on the teams.
  3. Have crucial conversations on a regular basis through one on one coach discussions. Address the skeptical people head-on and be willing to answer and support the worker through his or her questions and concerns.
  4. Call out the elephant in the room – in a company-wide meeting which may include virtual meetings admit that there is skepticism and that its to be expected. Then address what is going to be different this time and why the change is going to stick.
  5. Engage in a ‘change leadership’ approach which means sharing the vision of where you are heading, interact and gather data from the workers, share the results of the data. Engage workers to help create the action plan.
  6. Share progress reports on a weekly basis. Share through your Intranet, through videos sent to all workers by email, send dashboards showing how the dial has moved towards the change goals.
  7. Turn your naysayer skeptics into change leader advocates. Ask the skeptics to help you ‘spread the word’ and engage them in the change by adding them to projects that will both challenge and inspire them.

The question to ask yourself is this: “Do our workers have every right to be skeptical given our history in how we have handled change?”

If you can acknowledge that you understand the ‘why’ there is skepticism you can then make the change towards stopping it in its tracks. In many ways, the value of having skeptics is that it can cause us to look at change in a far more analytical way. Skeptics also provide a perspective that helps leaders gain clarity and reinforce the merits of the change.