Have you ever been in a situation where you did not agree with a decision made by a superior? We’ve all been in this situation and if you haven’t, are you sure you live on this planet?
One of the toughest things we face each and every day is how to challenge a decision we do not agree with. How do we challenge it without getting in trouble or appearing to not be a team player?
First, don’t be afraid. “Challenging up” is a form of leadership. It shows that you care and want to be invested in the solution. However, the key is to challenge the process without challenging the person. Challenging one personally always puts people in a defensive position and creates obstacles instead of a mutually beneficial conversation.
If we start the conversation with “this is dumb” or “whoever came up with this solution,” then we will never get taken seriously and will create a barrier between the owner of the decision and getting something changed.
Try starting the conversation with, “I’ve been thinking about this decision and…” or, “what if we…”
The key is respect. You cannot be heard if you don’t respect the person you are working with. If you start off on the offensive then you better expect some defense coming your way. The harder you try to attack the more vulnerable you will be.
Challenging up is a tough thing to do. All kinds of personalities and dynamics can be involved. However, if you focus on the process and offer solutions you will have a much better chance of getting the outcome you wanted.
Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.