Compliance = Resistance

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Ever encountered the “Nod Squad” – team members who obediently nod and comply, but are completely disengaged? When team members do not feel included in the decision-making process, or their input and feedback are not considered, they may comply with instructions out of obligation rather than commitment. 

Employee compliance can be the first form of resistance when team members go along with instructions while harboring internal eye rolls. It’s like a covert operation! To crack the code, leaders must foster open communication, involve employees in decision-making, clarify expectations, and address power imbalances. It is imperative to address compliance as it can impact team performance and overall organizational success. Here are some action steps to consider:

  • Build psychological safety: Create an environment where team members feel safe to express their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions without fear of repercussions. Leaders must resist the urge to jump in or critique ideas.

  • Give away the power: Include team members in the decision-making process whenever possible. Seek their input and involve them in problem-solving. Leaders then must actively implement employee solutions.

  • Provide overwhelming clarity: Clearly communicate expectations, repeat and reinforce often, provide the necessary resources, and offer support to ensure team members feel equipped to perform their tasks. Always check for clarity.

  • You can handle the truth: Be aware of any perceived or actual power imbalances within the team or organization. Build systems so you can actually hear the truth straight from the front line employees. Leaders need to have a way to stay connected up and down the chain.

It’s time to ditch the undercover compliance and unleash the power of authentic engagement in our teams. No more “nodding” off – it’s time to decode and disrupt the “Nod Squad”!

Photo by Matheus Bertelli


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