Confronting Leaders About Their Decisions

How is the culture in your organization when it comes to confronting upper management about decisions or direction that may hurt the company?  Does your culture allow employees to push back on upper management about a decision?  Or does your culture shy away from pushing back afraid the manager will get angry or upset and hold it against them for bringing it up?

We can’t allow our cultures to be afraid to bring up decisions that may be costing the company money.  We have to have the fortitude to raise the question and challenge it appropriately.  I’m not suggesting to confront leadership with every decision or to do it in an emotional way because you have passion about the decision.

There is a proper way to raise an issue.

  1. Understand the Current State – Understand what the decision was and how it is understood to help the organization (grow revenue, cut cost,etc…).  List the ways the decision is affecting the organization in a negative manner (Causing cost in another area).
  2. Gather the Facts – Once you have the list of the benefits and negative impacts you need to quantify them.  How much revenue is the decision actually generating?  How much cost are we saving?  What is the cost in the area being impacted negatively?  How much rework is the decision causing?
  3. Make a Recommendation – If you believe a decision is not what is best for the organization then that suggests you have an idea of what would be better.  What is the recommendation you have?  Quantify what you believe the results would be?  Why do you believe that?
  4. Get Your Ducks in a Row – Think of different angles upper management could take.  What are the facts around those options?  Would they say, “Become more efficient in the other are.”?  If so, how would you become more efficient?  What would it cost to implement the efficient way?  What would be the savings?  When would it pay back?
  5. Present Your Case – Set up a meeting with necessary people and present your findings.  Do it in a business-like manner and stick to the facts.  Don’t let emotion control the discussion.

I have found over the years that approaching situations in this manner usually brings out a great discussion and upper management respects the way you handled the situation.

Nobody likes to be lectured about how the decision they made was wrong.  It can be disrespectful.  Show them it isn’t emotional.  It is factual.  A lot of times they may not have known what their decision was doing to another area or that it was actually costing the company money looking end-to-end.

I have approached different leaders in this manner several times over the years and all but one case the leader changed their decision once they saw the facts.  The other time they still stuck with their decision which was their choice since they were the leader and the decision maker but at least the facts were presented.

How does your organization handle situations like this?

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Posted on November 29, 2012, in Communication, People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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