How to convince team members

In this blog, I share few tips for new managers who face difficulties in convincing team members.

Srihari Udugani
7 min readNov 13, 2023
Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

As a new manager you might struggle to convince the team members to do things in your way. The reason behind this are many.

The ability to convince team members and peers must be developed by every manager. This helps in achieving what you as manager want to achieve and add value to your team and the organisation.

Managers always have dilemma on what makes a team member to listen to them. It is not easy but possible to convince.

Let’s look at few things that you need to keep in mind while convincing team members.

Reality check

You have to ask yourself on why some or all the team members are not ready to listen to you.

Well there could be many reason. I have listed some of the common reasons below.

  • You are not listening or trying to understand what team is saying.
    Some new managers tend to believe that they are always correct. So they don’t bother to listen to what the team members are saying. Some managers just act as if they are listening. But eventually they want the team to do it in their way. This must change.
  • There is always a mismatch of understanding.
    The team member would have understood in one way and the manager would have understood it in another way. It will be like one person’s word against other person. This is not right.
  • There is no logical reasoning on why it should be certain way.
    Manager is not able to provide the reasons why things must be done in a certain way. There are no logical reasoning, case studies for references and so on. This will not help anyone.
  • There is no clarity.
    Manager expects team members to do certain things without setting the expectations. Some managers assume implicitly that team members are aware of what should be done. This is not true and must change.
  • Team member just does not understand (extreme case)
    There are cases where the team member is not trained or educated enough to understand what is going on. Early identifying such team members should be done for planning training sessions.
  • many more…

It is important to understand that a Manager should create an environment where there is room for your team members to express their views and thoughts.

And as a Manager you should listen with an open mind for convergence. Without having a neutral ground where you and your team members can discuss the situation, there is will be no convergence or acceptance of next steps.

Mindset changes

So, what is needed to make sure there is a neutral ground for you and your team members?

It is important for managers to make minor mindset changes. These mindset changes will help manager to look at things differently and at a neutral ground.

Following are few changes that you must attempt.

Change#1: Team member may also be right.
As a manager you cannot assume you know everything and you are always right. Consider the fact that, your team members also have knowledge and experience. So, they might be right in some cases and you may be right in some other cases.

Change#2: Managers should evaluate merits of team members approach.
A manager cannot discard team members approach without evaluating its merits. If you are not sure, then ask for more information or a pilot to make a point. But you have to evaluate before making any decision.

Change#3: Manager should present the facts to team members.
As a manager if you think your approach or suggestion is the right way to do things, then provide the related artefacts to the team members. This will help the team to evaluate and compare.

Change#4: Both of you should win.
Many managers think that if team members use their approach or suggestion then it is a win for them. But it is true only in few cases. If there is no learning for the team member or the team member feels that manager didn’t listen to the proposal, then that member will feel demotivated and detached.

How to arrive at a convergent point?

By now, as a Manager you should have understood that, it is nothing related to convincing a member, it is more about arriving at a point where you and your team member agree the way forward and both are happy about it.

So how to arrive at this convergent point? Follow any of the approaches mentioned below.

Pros-and-Cons:
This is one of the easiest approach. If you and your team member do not agree on some aspects, then list down the pros-and-cons of both the aspects.

An evaluation of the pros-and-cons will clearly outline which approach or method should be taken forward.

Be mindful that the evaluation should be done neutrally and both of you should agree on the pros-and-cons. Only then this approach will yield required result.

The pros-and-cons will help your team member to express the thoughts in a way you understand and you can express the thoughts in a way that the team member can understand. Hence the evaluation will result in making the right decision.

Since both of you agree on the way forward, there is no doubt in either of your mind.

Setting expectations ahead of time:
Sometimes team members do not know what is expected when they are taking up work. So as a manager setting some ground rules or best practices or checklist will help.

This approach helps in time when you want the team members follow a certain directory structure or coding strategy or certain design patterns of software development and so on.

Some examples are as follows.
- Use pylint to check python code as you develop,
- Run SonarQuebe for static code checks and share the report,
- Create task for every granular work,
- Review the documentation before starting coding,
- Always create a class in Python for every script,
- Use block diagrams to show the data flow,
- Write readme for every directory in the code,
- and so on.

If you are able to set such expectation for every work, then it will be easier for the team members to understand what they should do.

The checklists, or best practices or strategies can be discussed with the team members and agree on what should be done. In this way there is no ambiguity on why it is needed and how it helps.

Comparison study:
This approach can be used in cases where the team and you have to select one tool out of many options.

As a manager you are comfortable with some tools and your team members are comfortable with others. If there are no overlaps, then the best way to converge on one of the tool is by doing a comparison study.

For comparison study, it is important to set parameters that should be used common across all the tools. This will facilitate in an apple-to-apple comparison.

So before the team members start the comparison study, agree on the parameters that should be evaluated for all the tools.

Based on the comparison result, select the tools that has better evaluation. Irrespective which tool you and your team end up selecting, there will be consensus all round due to the results of the comparison study.

Once the selection process is complete, a quick pilot and demo will help in further confirming the decision. If there are any issue identified during pilot then other tools can be considered.

Situational based convergence:
Also referred as a compromising approach.

When you have multiple approach and both are good, how do you select one of the approach? You can select the approach which is suitable for the situation in hand.

It is not an ideal way, but this approach helps in some cases. Example, an urgent fix is needed. A hack based approach can finish the work in a shorter time but the long term solution will take more time. In this case, if the urgent fix is very important, a hack based approach can be selected.

Similarly there could be many cases where the situation will drive the decision. In these cases, as a manager you can make a decision. After making the decision, explain the team about it. This will help in aligning your team members.

But use this approach wisely. Because, this could create many technical debt in your development.

Final thoughts

As managers, it is all about aligning the team members to the right objectives and direction where there is opportunities for them. This in-turn will help you to succeed.

So, whenever there is a conflict of thoughts, use any of the approaches mentioned above or combination of approaches to arrive at a convergent point.

For you to prepare for such a situation, remember the mindset changes that are important. Without the mindset changes, as a Manager you will always force your team members toward your approach.

When the team is not happy or if they feel Manager is not listening to what they want to say, then the environment will not be right for them to work efficiently.

With mindset changes and approaches mentioned in the blog, you will be able to converge with your team members on an approach that is a win for both of you.

Happy management!

Further reading

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Srihari Udugani

Helping new managers to become successful to grow in their careers. Happy Management.