Making a commitment to rock the boat in any company requires an ability to take a risk and handle the consequences. The challenges are, not everyone will agree with you; and, not everyone will support you, even if you are correct. So, it requires courage and confidence that your efforts will create better results.
It begs the question, “Why bother?”
If you’re not willing to rock the boat, who will? Many people behave like ostriches with their heads in the sand. Some excuses are, “I need to keep my job.” “It’s time for my performance appraisal.” And, “It doesn’t bother me, so it shouldn’t bother you.”
The problem is, most ostriches eventually get bit … hard … in the proverbial butt … when the company is heavily fined for violations, a product is prematurely launched, an employee is hired without conducting proper due diligence or someone fails to speak up about health, safety or quality concerns.
It Takes Courage
It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN the issue or problem can no longer be ignored. Many companies are so busy with the 30,000-foot-high-view they often overlook the legal, financial, or moral implications of their decisions. Or, business owners, boards, executives, and employees may make decisions based on their own financial, personal and professional interests, which may be detrimental to the company.
Rock the Boat the Right Way
Speaking up and having the willingness to take a stand is not easy. Remember, your commitment is to achieve better results and not be emotionally attached to what you believe the outcome should be. So, be prepared since the decision-makers may not listen to you, even with the right data. Don’t give up. But, keep in mind, while the squeaky wheel gets the most attention, some may attempt to sabotage these efforts if they their ego feels threatened.
1.Voice your concerns in a positive tone. Remember, some of the team members will be unwilling to change after a decision has been made or direction established. If you offer a conflicting opinion, you may be viewed as negative. So, no one listens to you. This will be cited as “the reason why they didn’t listen.”
A business owner had initial success with her business idea and was approved as a vendor by a major retailer. So, when she offered an idea to a different group, they quickly accepted it based on her recent success. The problem was the idea went against the organization’s mission statement. So, when someone rocked the boat by asking questions about a conflict of interest, they immediately labelled the “questioner” as being negative (whether or not the person was). The board continued to base its decisions on following their feelings about what they wanted to do and disregarded objective input. Eventually, the organization had to close its doors.
2.Brainstorm Solutions. Instead of believing you must already know the solution, brainstorm to create one. Be careful not to select the first idea or an idea that resonates with the team. Instead, take the time to have someone play “devil’s advocate.” By asking the right questions based on good business practices, you are able to uncover areas requiring objective data. The process overcomes reliance on someone’s overly optimistic point of view.
- “Have you seen this work before? When and where?”
- “What were the circumstances — the same or different?”
- “Why do you believe it will work here?”
- “Who will be responsible for implementing it? Specifically, what is their experience?”
- “When was the cost analysis done? How were the resources budgeted?”
- Very important note! Remember, just because an idea or best practices worked in another company does not mean it will work well in your company.
3.Implementation. Even when an idea, plan or program is approved, the person responsible may not have the ability or the interest to executive it. Set up a meeting to talk with them: What has been done? What do they view as the next step? What, if anything, has stopped them from taking that action? Do not come across as accusatory, or they will get defensive and have a myriad of excuses. Rather, offer positive solutions that give everyone the opportunity to win.
A company director only had one more action to take for his team to get their bonuses. He had many excuses as to why he wouldn’t or couldn’t get it done. After sharing those reasons with his coach, she had him delegate that one activity to a key employee. As a result, the team celebrated with quarterly bonuses!
It’s important to note, when you choose to rock the boat, be aware that company policies or legal requirements may need to be addressed first. Talk with the right person (or people) to strategize how you can move forward before taking action.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2017
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Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and executive coach for 24 years; along the way she’s guided the creation of three millionaires. She is laser sharp at identifying the leverage points that will take a business and its team to the next level of performance and success. She also has extensive experience helping others make the right decisions. Check out her website , or contact Jeannette for a free, confidential conversation. Remember to get your copy of her 5th and newest book, It’s Time to Brag! Business Edition.