Beating the blocker at work

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone is presenting an idea or proposal and the local blocker comes out to play? You can spot them a mile off. The blocker is the one who looks at every conceivable reason to dismiss or block the change. We all know of an example and how irritating it is. Maybe you are that person? Some companies even employ blockers to do exactly that. They may sit in the risk department, finance or compliance.

Before you can beat the blocker, you need to understand them and why they block.

I am smarter than you blocker
These blockers don’t mean to irritate, they just like to be involved and heard. Unfortunately they have learned that being smart gets them noticed and contributing. They don’t set out to pick faults in your proposal, they just can’t help blurt the elements you haven’t covered.

You and I know that you can’t cover every little risk or variance in proposal. You would be there all day, so you summarise the key points for your audience.

Beat the blocker by
* seeking their advice before the meeting.
* bring them in as an expert, or respected opinion.
* give them the opportunity to come up with the blockers before the meeting.

the unloved blocker
This blocker may not know it but they are feeling a little hurt. They feel left out. They wanted to be part of the circle of trust, and involved in the proposal from the outset. Maybe the initiative is seen as high profile or supported by the board and they weren’t included. Maybe they just wanted to be part of the group.

Whatever their feeling of exclusion or being unloved, there will probably be an edge of resentment and anger. This can result in blocking or picking fault in every part of your proposal. No one wants those negative emotions at work, and especially when you want to get your idea passed.

Beat the blocker by
* acknowledging their feelings
* give a truthful explanation as to why they weren’t included, Time, urgency, genuinely forgetting .
* if appropriate, apologise to them
* explain they are at the meeting now because they are respected, involved or part of the team

It’s my job blocker
As I mentioned before, some colleagues are employed to play devils advocate. Just like you may have been employed to be innovative, creative and action orientated, they may have been brought in to manage the risks you bring. They are the yin to your yang, the rough to your smooth.

In classic DiSC style, these are high C’s fighting a high I. In MBTI you might find a STJ winding up an NFP. This is exactly the right person in the right role but you need to get them on side.

Beat the blocker by
* giving them what they need. Acknowledge the risks, provide the facts, figures and stats.
* make your proposal tangible and get yourself out of big ideas and visioning.
* give the rationale, purpose or goal to be achieved and be specific. What is being changed, why, by when, who is involved and how?

Coach them through it
If you are really struggling to get some forward traction, then employ some coaching skills. This really does require some courage from you in a meeting, but bottom lining in a meeting is so powerful.

Here are some great coaching questions for you.

I am noticing some resistance here, what is the resistance?
What is really going on here?
We have problem x to fix, what are your solutions?
What would happen if we do nothing?
What other alternatives or options do you suggest?

This really requires your listening skills. You never know, they may have some really valid points. Ditch your ego, ask the questions and listen to their answers. It is not you and them, you are a team and you can start behaving in that way. You are looking for solutions to move forward, not remaining stuck on a pointless merry go round and that requires you to move too.IMG_0339.JPG