Managing the, “Yeah, but…” in the Team Dynamic
When thinking about accountability, one thing that I have seen in many teams (my own included) is a quick, defensive reaction to change. I summarize this reaction by calling it the “Yeah, buts.” “Yeah, but…” is usually a way of saying no without actually saying no. Yeah, but is a mentality that puts up roadblocks to every solution, always coming back to the central message of, ‘That’s fine, but it doesn’t work. Here’s why we can’t change.” There have been times that people were stricken with yeah, buts simply because I wasn’t willing to listen to their realities. Other times, it’s because we try to impose solutions without knowing the full extent of the problem. At other times, it’s because making a change is a hard and bumpy road full of obstacles. There are also the moments when it’s easier to stay the same, because it’s always been this way.
There are so many complicated reasons as to why we resist change. However, when I was most frustrated with team members or when I came down with a case of the yeah, buts, I have found a way to defeat the defensiveness. Ask people to be part of the solution with one simple statement and then, a question.
Okay, I hear you that _____ won’t work. What would work?
When we frame our team members as knowledgeable, creative, and accountable for helping make change in our communities, we fully engage them as true SARTners. As team leaders and agency representatives, it’s essential that we ask ourselves and our people to do the hard work of building something together and be accountable for finding solutions to challenges. Keep at the affirmation and the question pattern of, “I hear you. What would work?” until people start to see themselves as builders.
There will always be reasons why things won’t work. There will always be documented cases of the yeah, buts. However, the work of the team does not have to grind to a halt because of an outbreak. There is a cure, and that cure is in building solutions together.
Do you have any experience with working through the yeah, buts? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!