Don’t Be a But
“But,” “no,” and “it won’t work,” are too often the knee-jerk responses we give to new ideas presented by a team member. Now put yourself in their shoes. No one wants to look stupid or be demeaned. It takes a lot of courage to bring a new concept or constructively challenge the boss’s current way of thinking. As a leader, our own negative interface can quickly snuff out the very thing we want most from our people – a completely engaged and motivated team.
My challenge to you in the new year, as leader and change agent, is to stop leading with negativity. Make a choice to own the positive space of opportunity and possibilities. Instead of “no,” intentionally choose to start with a ‘Yes.” Remember, when people come to you with an idea, there is almost always merit in what they are saying. If you’re still unsure how it will work, you can infuse them with self-confidence as you say, “there is a lot to that idea, tell me more.” Point out the important things you did hear them say. It is your job to mine that positive gold. It is in there. All you have to do is look.
Build on and expand their idea. After embracing the idea with a mindset of yes, let them know about constraints they may not have considered. Then ask them to rework their idea and address those constraints. Make it your habit to focus on what they got right, not what they got wrong.
This little, but significant, change in posture, will substantially improve the level of employee buy-in. It will move you from pouring water on their engagement fire to throwing fuel on it.