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5 Reasons Why Your People Don’t Listen to You!


You have brilliant ideas, you hire the best people, you try and communicate with them to the best of your capabilities, but your people still are misaligned to your vision and company goals…

In this article, we talk about the 3rd most common mistake made by an entrepreneur who wants to Scale Up, but is facing a communication problem leading to unaligned business goals and business plans between him and his people.

The Ground Reality

Aligning people requires a clear understanding of self as well as the people we wish to align. We can understand only one person at a time, but cannot generalize our understanding about that one person and replicate to all, thus as an entrepreneur we need to understand each person. But do we have the time or inclination to understand ourselves and others?

This remains the key cause for committing one of the biggest execution related mistakes towards Scaling up our Successes over a prolonged period of time.

We end up using tools of niceness, material wealth, fear, and manipulation (Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed as used in Sanskrit) and still end up with poor results. This mistake must be avoided in absolute. Committing this mistake is like setting ourselves up for failure from the beginning.

Back in 1982, Walker Kiechel wrote an article entitled “Corporate Strategists under fire”, (Fortune 27 December 1982, p38). There he asserted that “fewer than 10 percent of effectively formulated strategies were successfully implemented”. All forms of strategies for assuming scale (Balanced ScoreCard, PEST Model, Blue Ocean, etc.) need implementation.

In order to implement these strategies, the basic requirement is that our people need to be aligned with them. They need to believe in them and be a part of their making.

Below are the 5 reasons our people remain misaligned.

The 5 Reasons

1. Dis-agreement is not expressed.

Let us take the example of Susan who is into online and retail stores format of selling home decorative items trying to tell her people that this year they wish to achieve a sales turnover of $10 million with a profit of 30%. That this turnover will come from satisfied customers making 3 purchases each in a year. And that they will open 3 new stores next year. She clearly motivates her people well and talks enthusiastically about what the future holds for them.

After 6 months she finds her sales are not improving and in fact attrition rate has increased and there are more customer complaints than before. Despite marketing budgets, new customer acquisitions remains a challenge. What is going wrong?

When she conducts her review meetings, her people are talking all the good things they should be saying but it does not translate into results. During a chance meeting with one of her managers she hears a sense of non-belief in the goals and a statement saying… “well these goals were always difficult, but what was the point of expressing this, no one would believe me”.

Thus expression of dis-agreement should not only be expressed by the entrepreneur, but more importantly, he/ she needs to provide a platform for their people to express openly.

2. Personal Vision and Ambition of Employees is Not Considered.

Personal Aspiration, Past year data, Industry possibility, internal capacities to produce are the main foundations of any goal. The mistake that is made while setting goals is we have not taken people’s aspirations and their inner challenges into consideration. There is an assumption that we will make people work towards goals. We think they will come around and give their best if we offer them incentives and control them through fear. Most of the times, organisations set goals more on the lines of a “New Year resolution”, only to be broken.

3. Your people are Not Ready to Grow

When we set goals, we assume other people also truly want to grow. We do not communicate effectively with them before we initiate the process of setting goals. When Susan found out about one of her key manager’s ongoing problems with her alcoholic husband, she understood the reason for her low motivation. That manager could not give the required attention and due to the ongoing issue, she could not afford to lose her job also. So she agreed to pursue the goals in all honesty, but could not give it the effort and focus required.

4. Low or No Willingness to Participate

Scaling Up plans are implemented by people. Setting our goals and then pulling and pushing people to somehow achieve those goals does not result in scaling up. Mistaking people’s silence, nods or at times even consent towards the goals does not necessarily guarantee their willing participation. There needs to be clear alignment of goals with willingness of people to participate in the journey to achieve those goals. They need to participate in both planning the work and working the plan. It truly has to be their goal more than your goal.

5. Too much focus on Performance

This mistake can prove fatal and cause serious losses to the organisation. Since each organisation desires high performance, the management remain alert towards non – performance, while the bulk of the goals get achieved by the efforts of a few. A lot of policies get framed to ensure high performance from non-performers or mediocre performers. Policies and procedures focussed mainly on such people lead to performers becoming the center of all focus and attention. This causes strain on the fabric of the organisation due to which ‘heroes’ start emerging. Such power centres become toxic in no time. While “Performance” is a non-negotiable aspect of every organisation, an absolute focus on performance gives “Culture” or the method of getting to performance a back seat. This in turn causes greater misalignment.

Aligning plans with people’s willingness to participate in planning and execution is an imperative step to scaling up. This needs to become the culture of the organisation if it truly wishes to scale up effectively and over the long run. This is possible only through attaining a certain degree of consciousness about ourselves and about others. We need to accept people as they are. We should not try too hard to drive or transform people, it may stretch them too thin. Instead, We just need to accept them and allow them to accept themselves. As this happens, they tap into their potential and choose Growth while ensuring their survival. They begin to improve their capabilities, skills, attitudes and collaborate with others while helping everyone become better. It is no longer a survival of the fittest!! It is no longer an Animal Life! But a life of evolution.

Scaling up goes beyond mere Survival.

This was the 3rd of 10 mistakes an entrepreneur should avoid while scaling up. Tune in every Monday to follow this series.

Here are the links to previous mistakes:

1. Lust:

2. Worrying instead of thinking:

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