The other day I was in a meeting with a few executives. The program that I am involved in was launching a new initiative, and to say the least, they were not organized. Everyone in the room was looking for directions and guidance to set expectations. The group attending the meeting was looking for their marching orders. There was a lot of tension in the room because of the lack of clarity and the uncertainty of how the project would impact group represented.
There a you a young lady in the room who had experience regarding the new project. As the frustration levels surged in the room because of some of the chaotic conversations, this young lady began to give her advice about what needed to take place in order for the program to succeed. Everything she said made sense and it was clear that she had the knowledge and experience. However, she crossed a line she was not aware of.
What do you think she did wrong?
She made all the leaders of the project look like they didn’t know what they were doing in front of their executives. Furthermore, she made the executives look like they didn’t know what they were doing. In some corporate cultures, there is a BIG RULE. Never point out another person’s short falls in front of their higher ups. As the person gave a download of information, (which I thought was helpful) you could feel the uneasiness in the room grow, as people realized the team didn’t have their act together and the executives felt exposed. As the dialogue continued, the women continued to add her comments which then reached a tipping point. One of the leaders of the project snapped at her and put her in her place. Talk about tension.
If you know more than the people you work for, be prudent in how you share your experience and know how.
Here are some suggestions to avoid sabotaging your career.
1) If you think you know more than your higher ups, ask them questions in a tactful way to find out what they know. Your questions and lead them to seek out the solutions them selves.
2) Meet with them in person, and introduce your ideas in such a way that they can own them and embrace them. Some peoples ego’s are really frail. I know some of you might be barfing at this statement, but it’s true.
3) Talk to your immediate supervisor about your ideas and offer to help. Making recommendations without offering your help, can come off in a negative way.
4) Be positive, don’t point out the short comings of others. Be solution orientated.
5) Approach people with what I call an “attitude of entreaty”. Be respectful and don’t come off sounding like a know it all. It will likely destroy the opportunity for your ideas to be adopted.
6) If your first approach doesn’t succeed, don’t give up. Look for other ways to share your ideas and suggestions. You would be surprised on how much good you can do to improve things if you don’t care about who gets the credit.
Be careful how you share your know how!