In my many years as a manager, I’ve learned that driving people to adopt a new team management tool (and behavior) is never easy. But if you want to grow, you always need to evolve and learn new tricks. What I’ve also seen over the years, is that the challenges that come with getting a team to adopt new tools, makes many managers put it off. And as a result, they avoid improvement.

It’s never a good time to introduce change. But once you do, it feels so good you wonder what took you so long in the first place.

Friction in Driving Change in Startups

The answer of course is friction, and I found a way around it: A very effective managing technique to get people to adopt new tools (and behaviors). I call it The Back Seat Technique. This is how it’s done.

The Back Seat Technique for Leading Change

Step 1: Figure out which of your team members will get the most value from the new tool or behavior. Look for a person who will know how to use it.

Step 2: Have a private talk with that person (let’s call them The Driver) and tell them you want them to lead the change. This gives The Driver personal motivation; they feel you trust them to lead, and they feel it’s their responsibility to lead the change successfully.

NOTE: If you want your team to adopt a new tool – don’t push it to them as an afterthought saying, “check this out, see if it’s any good.” There’s nothing empowering about that, and it supplies no incentive.

Step 3: After you empowered a team member to lead the change, place yourself behind them, in the back seat. From there you can follow The Driver’s lead and support them. This empowers The Driver to lead, since they’re being followed and supported by their manager. It also turns you into an example of what you want the other team members to do — i.e. adopt change.

How to get your team to use a new tool in 3 easy steps - infographics

See also:

Very cool video: The best management lesson I’ve ever learned in only 3 minutes