Lukewarm Defenders of Change

Inside every company there is a culture. In order to remain competitive, companies need to make cultural and process changes that are holding them back. How the employees respond is a critical predictive factor in the achievement of the desired outcome.


“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things; because the innovator will have for enemies all who have done well under the old conditions and only lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”


As Machiavelli points out, leading others to a new order is tough work. Here are some management suggestions on how to make it a part of your culture:

Know your people

  • What is the thing they like most about their position? What would they change?
  • Have them explain why they are on this particular career path.
  • What do they think about the company and its management? What do they believe should be done differently?
  • Ask them who have been the greatest influences in their lives/careers. Listen intently and ask follow-up questions.
  • Ask what they like to do away from work.  Don’t make them uncomfortable. Make it known you are interested in getting to know them as people.
  • Share what values are important to you and why. Provide some stories where appropriate—people relate to stories.
  • Find out about their personal and career goals; share your own.
  • Become vulnerable. Ask what you could do better to serve them and the department/company.

Please remember to respond with empathy.  Demonstrate sincere interest in what your people say, significance to them, and how they feel about it.

Assign properly

1.    Delegate those things that would be helpful to you and to their development.

2.   Select the most strategic person to complete the task(s).

3.   When possible, get the employee to create a plan to complete the task(s).

4.   Ask the employee to repeat back their understanding of the desired outcome and process.

5.   Have a mid-point check-in on complex tasks.

6.   Follow up in a positively.

7.   Consider the rotating tasks.

8.   Delegate tasks that enhance cross-training.

9.   Try to include some delegation to everyone in the group.

10. Ask for input at the end of each task.


Internal Motivation:

Have the employee ask himself these three questions—

  • Do I have awareness about my passions?
  • What would I ideally like to look forward to each morning?
  • How do I make this ideal happen?

Discuss how the answers to these questions must factor into job responsibilities and performance.

External Motivation: How do you reward your employees?

The columns below offer employee types, potential felt needs, and some suggested rewards. For each employee, think about needs and rewards. (You may pull from categories more than once).




1. Employee feels disconnected from others.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


2. Solid worker boasts of recent accomplishments.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


3. Someone who displays a knack for learning and innovation.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


4. Turnover in a department causes an employee to withdraw.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


5. A shining star complains about the lack of opportunity for advancement.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


a. Security

b. Socializing

c. Esteem

d. Achievement

e. Power



















1. A letter of praise sent to the CEO and a copy of it given to the employee.


2. The right to select and manage a project.


3. A dress-down day.


4. An opportunity to gain some training & development.


5. An extra vacation day.


6. Involvement in a new committee/team.


7. Peer “attaboys” posted in lunch room.


8. Opportunity to lead a presentation/team.


9. Reassurance that his/her position is vital.


10. Role in developing a new company program.

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