Use “Yes, And” to Engage a New Team Quickly

Do you ever look at some of your childhood friends and the respectable things they are doing now and think to yourself, “wow! I can’t believe all the amazing things they are doing! Who would have guessed that way back when?!?”

 One of my best friends from high school was recently promoted to a high-ranking position where he is the second in command for a major city’s department of health. This means he was suddenly in charge of about two hundred employees.

What?! That’s wild.

(What’s wilder to me is that this is a friend that I used to watch Jean Claude Van Damme movies with while eating buckets of fried chicken from KFC. And now look at him, all respectable and stuff. 😄)

We were talking about his approach with leading this new large group of people and I was struck by how “yes, and” his approach was. 

This got me thinking about how any new leader can use “Yes, And” to quickly and effectively engage a new team.

If you are interested in that (or know a new leader who might be) I made the video below on this topic.

New leadership can be a big change for everyone involved. If your team or organization is going through this kind of a change, let me know! I would love to chat and see how I could help.

If you prefer reading over watching, there's a transcript below the video.


Are you a leader to a new team? Maybe you've had experience leading before, but you've now moved to a new team, new department, or an entirely new organization, congratulations. That is awesome and exciting. But there are some challenges you may face, and you want to make sure you engage those new people and get them on your side as quickly as possible. This video will give you a few ideas on how to do that. Hey. My name is Avish Parashar.

I am a professional speaker, and I use my over 30 year background in teaching, studying, and performing improv comedy to show organizations and individuals how they can respond to change. Specifically, I show employees how they can embrace change and I show leaders how they can help their people navigate the change. As a speaker, one of the changes I am, brought in to speak on periodically is new leadership. It could be, someone's become the vice president of a department, and they're having a department meeting, and they want me to kinda get people embracing change. Sometimes it could be high level. It's like, oh, we've got a whole new CEO now, and they're gonna change a lot of things. So we want our people to be ready for the change.

And in a lot of those keynotes and workshops, I'm speaking to the employees themselves saying, look, there's some changes happening, changes coming. Here's how you can say yes and instead of yes, but to it.

Here's how you can embrace it. Here's how you can use it to your advantage. In this video, however, I wanna speak to you as the leader. What are some things you can do to be more effective in quickly engaging and involving those people? Instead of putting the entire burden on them accepting you, what are some things you can do? What are some yes ands you can say to get that team on your side quickly? I mean, it might.

I don't know you. But in general, if you're a new leader and people are resisting or uncertain, it's not about you. They don't really know you yet. People just resist change because that is a natural human response. They're probably afraid that they're gonna be changed, in how they do things. Right? They've they've been doing this a certain way.

Their old leader was okay with it, allowed it, whatever. So now they're worried, like, oh, am I gonna be dictated how we need to do things? Do I need to change what I've been doing? They're afraid of a change in relationships. Right? Maybe they had a relationship with that old leader, and now they have to start from ground zero. Or maybe something's gonna shift in their coworkers.

Now they're like, oh, wow. This new leader really bonds with these other coworkers, and now I feel left out of that. It just change in leadership shifts dynamics, and people get worried about that, so they resist. And while it's not about you specifically, people may have negative assumptions about you. Not because of anything specific you've done, but they may have had some experience with a new leader came in and changed things, so they're making assumptions about what you're gonna do. And, sadly, we as people often when we're uncertain, we default to the negative assumption, the negative perception of the future. So even without knowing anything about you, just by the fact that you're different, they're gonna start thinking about all the negative things a new leader could do as opposed to being open to the positive.

So it's not about you. It's just a reality. And, again, you can work the employee side. Right? This is why companies bring me in to speak to the employees to get them more open minded, to think more positively about the change. But the point of this video is to give you 4 things you can do to start engaging that team right away. There's a simple acronym you can use to remember called ALIC.

It's not a real word, so I don't know if that's going to be helpful to you, but that is the 4 steps you can do. Number 1 is to ask. Right? Don't dictate. Don't tell. When you're a new leader, you may have some ideas about how you like to do things. You may have already talked to the people who hired you about the situation, so you may have already started generating.

Here's how things need to be, and that's great. Having a plan is important, but what you're gonna wanna do to engage these people and reduce their fears is to engage them by asking them questions, getting their input, find out what they feel has been done well, find out what initiatives they might like to take in the future, and find out what opportunities for improvement they see in the organization, team, or department. I told this story in one of my other recent videos, but it bears repeating here. I have a good friend of mine who has worked as a leader in a couple large organizations, and he had recently transferred or taken a new job leading a department of about 200 people. And he said, but, basically, what he's been doing is just having conversations and asking people and getting their input. He's not rushing in to change everything right away. First, he's engaging the people by getting their input, because in his words, they're the ones that do this work every day.

Like, who am I to just come in and tell them how they should be doing what they do? He's like, I'm just asking them questions and learning from them, so then I can figure out how to synthesize it all. So it starts by asking. And in improv, I talk about this in my keynotes. This is what we call give and take of control. In an improv comedy scene, you don't want to have one person just dictating where the story is going. You want to have everyone who's doing the scene together to work.

I contribute a little, and and then I let go and you contribute a little. So this is how we work together to build something, and the same applies in the workforce when you're a new leader. Number 2 is to listen and to really listen. You can go to the first step of asking a question. That step is meaningless if you don't actually really listen to the answer. This means being present. What you don't want to do is ask the question and number 1, have the answer in your head that you want them to say and start judging when they don't say that.

Number 2, you don't wanna ask a question and then immediately start judging their response as to why they're wrong or how that doesn't fit into what you wanted. You want to just be present. And when I'm doing a workshop with, professionals, I have a couple exercises that really work this. One of my favorites is this game called, last letter. First letter, last letter. And basically, what this is, you have 2 people have a conversation. There are a variety of ways of doing it.

You could have them tell a story. But what you do is if you and I were having a conversation, I would say my sentence to you. You would have to wait and you would have to start your sentence with a word that begins with the last letter in the last word I said. So, for example, if we were setting up a scenario where we are talking about, I'm trying to give you feedback on the quality of your work, I might say, oh, hey, Steve. I'd like to talk to you about your work.

Now work ends in a k. So when you spoke, you would have to start your sentence with a word that starts with letter k. And then I would listen to whatever last word you said, whatever letter that ended with, I would have to start my sentence with a word that starts with that letter and back and forth. It's a fun game, and it forces a lot of creativity, so I also use it in conjunction with creativity. But primarily, what I use it for is this idea of really listening and being present. Because in order to play this improv game, you cannot pre formulate your answer. As your partner is saying something, you may start thinking of what you want to say, but it doesn't matter because you have to really listen to hear every word so you know what the last word is and know what the last letter is.

And then we talk about how you could apply that in work. But that simple shift of listening to every single word the person says before you formulate your answer is absolutely powerful and transformative when it comes to effectively listening. Number 3 is to incorporate what they said. You know, you've asked these great questions. You've listened, truly listened to all these answers. Now, you have to incorporate what you can. You don't want your conversations to just be lip service, and people will notice.

So what you want to do is pay attention to what people say and figure out how can I use what they say? That may require me to change off my plan a little bit, to do things a little bit differently, to make some adjustments in my process. But by doing that and when people can see that you're incorporating their ideas, they will suddenly be like, oh, wow. This is a leader who really listens. This is a leader who takes into account what I say and that's going to immediately start building rapport and getting people engaged and getting people more willing to be able to your ideas when it's time for you to share them. Number 4 is connect and by connect, I don't mean connect with your people. That is important, but that's basically what steps 1, 2, and 3 will do. No. No. When I say connect here is now, what you wanna do is connect all those ideas you've gotten and incorporated into your vision.

See, this is the key. This is not about not having a vision or direction or offering guidance and leadership. You are a leader and you were probably hired because of your vision and your ability to take people in a certain direction. You don't wanna let that go. You just save it for later. Instead of coming in and saying, here's my vision, you take all that input people gave you. Now say, okay.

Here was my vision. Here's what they have contributed. How can I connect these 2? Right? Can I take what they're saying and have it lead towards where I want them to go? Or as I said in the previous one, can I take my vision and tweak a little bit of it so it's adjusted, so it fits to what they want? Right? When you do these things, you are now involving what your people said with your vision.

So you're not just totally behind the scenes being sort of useless, not useless, but just being just a facilitator. Right? You've got your ideas. You've got things that you think are right, and those are probably valid. This is sort of an advanced improv comedy idea called reincorporation or even incorporation. This is one of the reasons why I, as someone who's an improv for 30 years, can be on stage with someone who's done improv. Never. Right? I'll bring up a volunteer who's never done improv.

And we can work together, and they're involved, and we're taking their ideas, and they're contributing. But I'm still able to offer some shape and direction to the scene. Now this is a little bit advanced. It takes practice. But when you can do this as a leader, this is when everything starts coming together because now you are involving your people. You are engaging them. You're letting them shape the idea while at the same time contributing your own expertise and experience, which is the reason you were hired in the 1st place.

So those are four ways, the four-step process you can use to start gauging people if you are a new leader - ALIC.

Ask, listen, incorporate, connect. Hopefully, you found that helpful and valuable. If you did, please give me a like and a subscribe. And if you'd like help, if you'd like me to come in and speak to your employees, getting them to say yes and to embracing the change, or if you'd like me to come in and work with your leaders to give them ideas on how they can engage people in leading through a change, please visit my website www.avishparashar.com, or just reach out and contact me.

I would love to chat.

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