Convincing the "It'll Never Work" User

13 Jun, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Learn how to cope with those users who are always pessimistic about new ideas.

Continuing in my series on problem users, we now arrive at the "it'll never work" user. You know the type, right? No matter what you advocate in terms of CAD management, Negative Ned or Nellie will regale you with reasons why your idea is wrong. This argumentative user is always convinced that your latest training or standards initiative will fail, and is outspoken about his or her fatalistic attitude.

Classic knee-jerk objections include:

  • Our department doesn't do it that way
  • My old company didn't do it that way
  • The program I used to use didn't do it that way.

But absent any solid technical reason for why a new program or process won't work, the real reasons why this user won't follow your recommended CAD practices are almost always these:

  • They don't want to do it your way
  • They don't want to learn anything new
  • They are simply argumentative.

So how can you handle these naysayers? How do you break the cycle of complaining, standards avoidance, and noncompliance? You need a three-step strategy: analyze, respond, and isolate. Here's what I mean by each step.

Analyze. Take the user's objections seriously: analyze them to identify the source of the complaint. If he or she provides valid technical reasons why something won't work, then you have to address the problem. But if not, you can illustrate that the complaint doesn't reflect a technical deficiency in your plan, but something more personal — perhaps fear of change, or resistance to a perceived increase in workload. These concerns are likely shared by more than one user, so it may want to address the department as a whole, explaining what to expect as a result of the change.

Respond. Assuming the "it'll never work" user is simply complaining, and other users have been able to make your processes and procedures work, you can now respond to them in this manner: "Your complaint isn't valid because everybody else is able to follow along the procedure and get their work done." You can move the conversation along by saying, "I realize you may not want to do things this way, but for the good of all the other users and departments, I can't have you bucking the system." This is a discussion you and the problem user should have in private.

Isolate. Now that you've responded to the complaint and demonstrated that it isn't technically valid, you can isolate the problem user's lack of compliance by pointing out how their behavior disrupts everyone else's productivity. And when management sees that the complaining is costing the company money, they'll step in and help you manage problem users.

This strategy has always worked for me when I have to deal with argumentative users. It does require a bit of confrontation, but it's the only way I know to stop the complaining and actually focus on process and productivity. Let me know if it works for you.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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