Motivating Teams & Getting Across the Bridge to “Why”!

SERIES: Part Three of a Five-Part Article

Executive Summary:  Ideas for implementing new initiatives for successful team buy-in and commitment

As a leader, your ability to tactically engage your team in a non-combative manner and get the individuals within a team to embrace new ideas, initiatives, policies, procedures, projects and ways of being successful is paramount to success and survivability. Most teams resist what must be done to sustain success and thrive in today’s marketplace because management has a habit of not communicating the “why” factor. Conversations typically sound like this:

“While this is WHAT we have been doing and HOW we have been doing it, starting today, here is WHAT we must do and HOW it must be done.”

As soon as management completes this sentence, sends this email or posts this memo, the recipients immediately internally process and say to themselves or out loud to others:

“WHY can’t I do it the way I have always done it?” or, “I  don’t understand WHY I have to do that.”

At this point, an organization and, more specifically, that team will experience the following:

  1. Passive aggressive behavior from individuals
  2. Resistance and anger from individuals
  3. Undermining actions, comments and behaviors to implode desired outcomes
  4. Shifting of work loads and over burdening some individuals while others skate by doing minimal work
  5. Cliché warfare
  6. Stubbornness

It is not that individuals, managers or leaders are good or bad people, but rather they have fallen into systemic ways of engaging others. While managers and leaders have spent exhaustive hours rationalizing the reasons to take a particular action, they have failed to allow this same informative or investigative process to occur on the part of the team.


  1. Make sure that when discussing any new way of doing something or the need to change something, you spend as much time on the WHY aspects of the dialogue as you would on the WHAT and HOW components.
  2. The WHY component is where the rationalization takes place. If one can’t easily rationalize a need for the new WHAT and HOW components, it is natural to resist.
  3. Identify the various parties that make up the team and determine the vested interest level of each individual to glean a better perspective of how to construct your WHY presentation.

As a leader with your team, if you feel that you are on one side of the river bank, fighting and pulling people to come across and meet you, you have not constructed the “Bridge To Why”. That is why the team is resisting you and defending the way they are comfortable with doing whatever they do.

Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)

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