How To Get People To Do What You Want

How to get people to do what you want

You’ve been there!

You’ve asked someone to do something – they’ve agreed to do it … but it just hasn’t got done!

Why is it so hard to get people to do what you want … and what can you do about it … realistically?

I guess the answer to the second part of the question lies in the answer to the first; so, why is it so hard to get people to do what you want?

As you know, we like to rely on principles of common sense in Slow Selling, so here are 3 principles that I think are really useful to know and remember:

  1. People are volunteers: you may think that they’ll do something as instructed because they’re being paid, but that’s not the case! They’re human like the rest of us: their work is just a PART of their life, and they have hundreds of conflicting pressures and problems like we all do. So, they may be hugely organised and enthusiastic (wouldn’t that be great if you could get a full team of these people?), or they may be disorganised and scatter-brained … or somewhere between the two. Either way, they will prioritise their tasks according to their own beliefs, attitudes and pressures.
  2. Everyone’s doing their best: you may not believe this, but no one gets out of bed in the morning saying: ‘I’m really going to mess it up today!’. No, everyone wants to have a ‘successful’ day … it’s just that their definition of ‘success’ may not be the same as yours!
  3. What gets measured gets done: the key to getting people motivated and enthusiastic is to have a measure that all are committed to and clear on. For example: how exciting would a football match be without any scoreboard? Yet, so often, when tasks or projects are organised and actions agreed, there’s so rarely a clear set of ‘desired results’ or ‘goals’. (And even in the smallest actions these need to be clear and motivational … otherwise what’s the point of doing them?).

So: to sum up: what usually causes people not to do what you want are:

  • Mixed up priorities, conflicting desires and unclear goals

As a leader or manager in an Independent business, the buck usually stops with you.

So, what, in reality can you do to escape the chaos and get better results through more effective actions?

Here’s a 3 step suggestion, using the above principles and their solutions:

  1. People are volunteers: involve them in making the plan: Start by making sure the ‘Desired Results’ are clear, why and how this aligns with the organisation and the individual’s long-term goals. Then ask their opinion: how effective do they think these results will be? What other results might we be looking for? And lastly, how confident are they that they have the motivation, skills and tools needed to get the results?
  2. Everyone’s doing their best: use open questions to agree the details and offer your help. Questions like:
    • How clear are you on the ‘Desired Results’ (out of 10?)
    • What other results might we want?
    • How motivated do you feel about this? (out of 10?)
    • What do you think you can do?
    • What problems do you think you might get?
    • What support might you need?
    • Etc.
  3. What gets measured gets done: Build in ‘Accountability’ and Consequences’ at the front of any plan: by agreeing:
    • How will we measure progress and results?
    • How will we communicate?
    • When will we next review this?
    • What are the consequences:
      • Of success?
      • Of failure or problems?

Now, I’m sure as you read this, you’ll be thinking: ‘Yes, that makes sense … but how on earth will I get time to do this every day’.

So, sticking to our ‘Slow Selling’ principles, I’d suggest the way to do this is … inch by inch.

In my experience of working with different clients across the UK for many years (and my own mistakes as a leader), perhaps the KEY TWO THINGS to ensure are clear, step by step are:

  1. Desired Results: what are the measurable key outputs we’re looking for from this?
  2. Accountability: how will we measure progress and results?

It’s the old 80/20 rule at work: if you can do just these 2 things for every task or step in a process or project, most of the work and results will improve dramatically.

So, our ‘Go the extra inch tip’ for this blog is: ensure these are clear in every task.

(And then you can build in the other open questions and good leadership, one by one, as results improve and you get less hassled and feel more in control!)

Whether you like the ideas of ‘Slow Selling’ or not, we hope that the above 3 key steps will help you… And if you do like the ideas of ‘Slow Selling’, then BE SURE to sign up to the free weekly tips service by clicking here.

Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit movement for change in selling.

Our systems deliver peace of mind and confidence to caring leaders and managers who want to do the right thing and grow their business, without sacrificing principles or profit.

To find out more, please click here or email

Share the Post:

Dig deeper into Slow Selling

Check out these resources to discover more about how the Slow Selling principles can help your business.



Download our free audiobook 'The 4 Vital Principles of Business Success.



Apply the secret principles of the world's most successful businesses.



Contact us to enquire about 'Slow Selling' support for your business

Scroll to Top

Learn how we helped 100 top brands gain success.

Let's have a chat