If They Don’t Care, Don’t Waste Your Time

“The time that you are wasting in attempting to coach people who don’t care is time that is stolen from helping people who do.” – Marshall Goldsmith

I am a certified executive coach for Lee Hecht Harrison. I use their coaching readiness scale to help determine the level as to which someone is open to coaching. I have adapted their scale to gauge the level to which someone is open to change.

People won’t change if they have no interest in changing. Change will be far more difficult when working to influence levels 1 and 2 than when working with levels 4 and 5.

Level 1: Defiance, negative, pessimistic, appears dis-engaged, not interested. Level 1’s are basically giving the middle finger to any change. If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.

Level 2: Also negative, defensive, but there may be some possibilities. Level 2’s may say things like, “This is a stupid idea, but I’ll go with it.”

Level 3: The wake-up call. If you’ve ever watched Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer, he’s the master of the wake-up call. He aggressively provides feedback to the bar and the bar has a choice given the feedback. They can get on-board and move up to a level 4 or 5 or they may not appreciate Jon’s approach and resist the change by moving to a level 2 or 1. I would imagine if we asked Jon to look at this scale, he would immediately be able to share stories where both happened. Many times the Level 3’s will be unaware there was an issue or maybe they knew it was an issue but it wasn’t yet urgent and important enough to take action. My friend and counterpart, who’s also one of the brightest minds in leadership, Jason Cummins, describes the highest-performing teams as “winning the middle”. If you need to win the middle check out: How To Flatten Your Own Curve During Change.

Level 4: I describe level 4’s as “Good soldiers”. They are on-board, they have commitment, they are present, and there is buy-in. They provide an overall positive vibe towards the change. They show real interest in improving and learning.

Level 5: Level 5’s contain many of the same characteristics as level 4’s with one major difference. Level 4’s are pulled by their leader and Level 5’s are pulling their leader. Level 5’s are proactive, leading the change, looking for ways to make the change even better, providing ideas and creativity and optimism toward the future.

Five things to remember:

#1. Not everyone is open to change at the same level.

#2. Start to gauge where everyone is individually toward the change.

#3. Win the middle by giving level 2’s and 3’s time to adjust.

#4. Continue to invest time with level 4’s and 5’s.

#5. Stop wasting your time at level 1. If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.

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