It’s too easy a position to sit in a meeting and preface your comment with, “Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment…” Screw the devil, tell us a better idea.
Stating the opposite of everything just to have your voice added to the conversation doesn’t help. Don’t be a critic in the corner seat. Pull up a chair front and centre and help take us where we should go with better ideas, not just the negative out there. Bring a better plan.
The beauty of hindsight is that it’s faultless. It’s easy – and cheap – to state after the fact, “I knew this was a crappy idea,” or, “Why the hell did we do it like that?” Everyone’s now an expert on why Woolworths, Borders, and the banking sector fared so miserably, but would they have played it so differently if they were on the inside at the time?
Of course you may have spoken out and pushed back. You might have raised a hand and offered the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) alternatives that you thought were better and the course still wasn’t corrected. Well, then I’m afraid you have two choices: jump ship and avoid the future failure on your CV or get on board, pick up an oar and row as hard as everyone else to get through the choppy waters safe and sound.
I want to hear differing opinions. If I say left and others believe right is the better direction then let’s debate that. Listening to a dissenter can get you to question your conviction of what’s possible.
This is where communication is so vital. – communicating that everyone on the bus has a vested interest in its destination. That anyone could, should and must speak up if they know of danger ahead. People need to know that they can’t blindly follow the path and complain later; that we need their input not just on our current trip, but also on the ones we haven’t even thought of yet.
What would HR say of putting that in the job description?