Have you ever thought, “people do strange things?” I happened into a conversation at my local coffee shop. They were discussing how a couple of their co-workers would always speak up after a direction was selected. They would feed off each other to point out how this direction was going to fail. Made me think back to a couple of times this very same thing happened to me. I smiled at this experiences I was remembering. One of the guys asked me if I would share my thoughts. They replayed their situation.
Their work team was charted with fixing a quality issue. They had met a couple of times to brainstorm, gather additional data and set up their course of action. Along the way, the two co-workers just sat and listened without offering any information. Once the work team came up with their direction and got the go ahead. Those two guys started to speak up. Speaking up how this direction is not going to work. They asked me if I had any experiences like this. Of course I had. Who hasn’t?
Speaking up after the fact just happens. Some people are afraid of change. So, they do whatever they can to put up distractors to moving in the direction of change. Some people just do it because they don’t want to be associated with a direction/decision that will could fail. Distancing themselves from the team. Whatever the reason, it looks like they are hoping that the team fails. Leaders need to make sure that in the brainstorming, data gathering and decision making process discussions are where EVERYONE speaks up! After the direction/decision has been made is when EVERYONE is focused on execution.
I normally laugh when I am on an airplane and the announcement comes on, “This plane is headed for New York. If you are not going to New York, please ring your attendant call button.” I laugh because I have used this when I am working with my team when we have those individuals that want to speak up after we are moving in a direction. It is critical to know who those folks are and make sure to draw them into the right time to speak up. Also, it does hurt to let them know, when they are speaking up at the wrong time, “we really could have used that input during our discussions before the decision has been made.” Remind them that, “we now are in the air, heading to New York and we want to land safely. Welcome aboard.” It only takes a couple of those discussions and behaviors change.