In team meetings across the world, the first few weeks of the year consisted of updates on 2020 goals and to design plans to fulfill them. Team leaders made impassioned speeches about the tremendous accomplishments that awaited and shared the goals on which the team will be evaluated.
At the beginning of 2020, no one could have predicted that every business in the world would be forced to transform in response to one of the great disruptions the world has seen in decades: a global pandemic. Perhaps more than ever before, people are experiencing doubt over whether their goals can be accomplished and certainty about what will go wrong, rather than how to bring inspired action to their work.
How do we respond to the unparalleled anxiety that comes with a global pandemic and extreme business disruption? What is missing is enrollment: the art of getting another to act consistently with a new possibility. Soliloquies or monologues don’t get people to act. Instead, the art of enrolling others in a commitment to breakthrough performance requires a conversation.
For people to commit to a breakthrough result necessitates a two-way dialogue. Getting people to commit to a 5% increase in their performance this year does not take much. A 20% increase in their performance requires a fundamentally different course of action, and that fundamental difference means that leaders must invest the time to listen as much as they speak to their direct reports.
There are several kinds of conversations one can have to enroll another person in an ambitious possibility. One that is habitually overlooked is the kind of conversation in which people are straightforward and transparent about breakdowns.
There’s no secret to being straightforward and transparent with your people. Very likely, they’re already confronted with how they’ll respond to the countless breakdowns they are inevitably facing this year. Acknowledging the breakdowns that have emerged, and taking the time to specifically ask people to share the future breakdowns they see as likely does not cast a negative light on the future. It catalyzes an authentic conversation about what people are really dealing with. These are the kinds of conversations that generate enrollment.