Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

Archive for January 2014

How Do You Want to Be Wrong?

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When you’re in school, success is knowing the right answers, and 70% is just a passing grade. Before 1980, the working world used to be more like this, as well. This no longer works.

Consider applying for a job. It used to be that, if you changed jobs too often, you were viewed negatively as a job-hopper. Now, if you stay in one place too long, you could be viewed as too passive and limited. Or, if you change jobs too often, you could still be viewed as a job-hopper.

How often is too often? It depends on the person sitting across the table from you.

How do you know how you will be perceived ahead of time? You don’t. And if the hiring manager really doesn’t want to hire anyone, he can find something about you not to like.

You Can’t Please Everyone

You’re managing a project and your team has estimated the tasks involved. You have rolled the tasks up into an overall project schedule. Your management comes to you and wants you to compress the schedule, challenging the estimates.

If you push back, you will probably be perceived as “not a team player.” If you cave, you’re telling the team that asking for their input was really an empty exercise; the schedule your management wanted is more important. This will then impair your effectiveness with the team.

So what to do? Well, what price would you rather pay? Would you rather take the hit in the relationship with your management or your team? Which choice would leave you better able to look yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning?

So You’ve Got to Please Yourself

The cubicles are full of armchair quarterbacks ready to criticize those who take risks, while being much less ready to take risks themselves. It is an occupational hazard with which you just have to come to terms.

Inability to cope with criticism will lead to paralysis. The critics are out there. As I have described elsewhere, the workplace is up to its ears in people who have been able to define their jobs as telling others how we did it wrong. It’s good work if you can get it and if you can keep it for your entire working life. The risk that these people are accepting is: what happens if Corporate America can’t carry that many critics? Someone has to actually produce something. Becoming a critic is a long-term career investment; it’s not easy to flip back into a doer if there turns out to be a surplus of critics.

He built that plant without approval and everyone was mad as hell at him — for an hour.
— a board chairman, quoted by Joe Fox in Trapped in the Organization.

Today is as good a time as any to test what is really more important at your place of business: getting things done or being right. If being right really is more important, don’t you want to know that? Maybe you should take your business elsewhere. Companies get the employees they deserve.

There are endless opportunities to be wrong. Some of your co-workers have limitless supplies of criticisms, ready and waiting to be shared. How do you want to be wrong?



Written by srojak

January 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm