I've blogged before about the “20 things supervisors shouldn't say.”
I'll throw out, for discussion, two phrases that are awful to hear in the context of any change management situation, such as Lean in a hospital or a factory.
When I'm proposing, or my team is proposing, change – such as a new layout, new standardized work, or other changes, it's very unproductive for people to say:
“That won't work.”
“I don't like that”
The first first phrase is pure negativity. One team member might hear a comment like that and just walk away discouraged. I would coach them to ask the person probing questions, in a respectful way, to find out if there is a legitimate concern or just standard resistance to change. Instead of walking away, explain to the naysayer, “Here's why we think it will work….”
You want to get feedback from people and their input… but it has to be constructive. If you have a better way or you see a legitimate hole in the process…. speak up. But if you complain, give an alternative. Be constructive.
It's much better to have people thinking “how do we make this work?” instead of sitting back and just being a naysayer.
Along those same lines, let's say there is a new checklist introduced. Saying “I don't like that” and walking away isn't constructive either. Why doesn't the person dislike the new idea? Is there a legitimate issue, or is it just unhelpful negativity?
My recommendation and guidelines for giving feedback would include:
- If you're going to be outright negative, do it in private. If you're a supervisor or manager and you're negative, your employees will feed off of that.
- If you have a disagreement — speak up! But do so in a constructive way. Propose alternatives. Use reasoning. Don't just complain.
These are pretty common change management issues, are they not? How do you deal with situations like this or coach others to handle them?
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