There’s an art to keeping the right people engaged, for the right amount of time. When things feel stale, it’s often a signal of disinclination. One way to infuse new energy into a group, is to create space by releasing the reluctant.
Life happens, so it’s natural for interest and commitment levels to change over time. While engagement may expand, anyone’s ability to contribute can just as easily be reduced as a mission evolves and roles transform.
The spiral of someone’s reluctance will soon create stress between others who are still devoted. The longer this misalignment lingers, the more tension it creates. Even so, people hold on too long and the group fears confrontation. This extends the pain for everyone. The reluctant feel guilty for not contributing, while the zealous begin to resent the perceived lack of integrity. Along with internal toxicity, those being served experience less dependably, which devolves into reduced trust, enthusiasm, and engagement.
“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” -Seth Godin
Keeping an eye on our personal bandwidth adds clarity for what and when to quit. This self awareness helps us stay centered and motivated by the way we spend our time. It also helps maintain good relationships by avoiding the unnecessary roughness of dramatic encounters, even when it’s time to explore a new direction. When bridges don’t get burned, we can make a ruckus, move on, and actually expand our impact while still staying connected.
For leaders dealing with lingering reluctance, let’s finish with a few friendly tactics to keep the group vibrant, while maintaining lasting loyalty from the departed.
An easy way to start, is by respectfully inviting individuals who have written their story, to graduate gracefully. Sometimes, good people simply don’t want to quit on the people/program they care about. When given a polite opportunity to exit with elegance, appreciation leads to a smooth transition. Another approach is to invite everyone to do more. Inviting initiative often provokes less committed members to bail. Lastly, know the end will always come. Be clear with expectations, transparent as things evolve, and keep succession apart of ongoing planning. Compliment the internal clarity with external celebration. Make a habit of recognizing individuals who made a difference in the past and praising those who are being generous now. This nurtures an environment where people are inspired to do their best when they’re involved, without feeling a sense of loss when it’s time to let go.