If you have to set rules/standards that your team does not embrace — you either have the wrong approach or the wrong people. Or worse still, both. For, the right people and the appropriate approach will automatically bring alignment. So, any dissent in your team is very informational.
Right people, wrong approach
Every team will face a unique set of challenges that defines the work it does. A set of challenges of varying complexity that will call for a certain approach. An approach that strikes the ‘right’ balance between rules and autonomy, given the work that needs doing.
Assuming that you have the right people with the relevant skills and motivation, there is only one reason for them disliking your approach. It sucks —your star team feels restricted in their ability to do their jobs. As such, your approach gets a lukewarm reception from them. They may even express dissent.
But, that is very good news! For, this dissent in your team is very informational. It is a clear sign that you need to adapt as a manager and do better. If you’ve got good people, listen to them when they are unhappy about the process. They are very likely identifying key areas for improvement.
Right approach, wrong people
Of course, the above relies on having very good people. And, it is quite easy for the opposite to be true too. You may have hit the sweet spot in defining the way of working to do the job well. However, you may have an unskilled and unmotivated team — the wrong people.
Perhaps some of them are uninspired by the type of work, or lack experience. Perhaps, some simply have a problem with authority and don’t want to listen to you. Whatever the specific causes, it is not you and your process that is necessarily the problem, but the people. There is of course the small matter of how you ended-up with the wrong team! So, it could still be a problem of your making, after all. Be very careful before you start ascribing blame to others.
There is also the nightmare situation of having both the wrong approach and the wrong people. If so, you are really in a pickle and it is going to take some unpicking to get to the bottom of things. And chances are, the real problem is that the team simply has the wrong boss.
Dissent in your team is very informational — embrace it!
Dissent in your team is very informational because it is drawing your attention to what is hidden. To things that need to be fixed if you want to raise your game. Lesser managers may shy away from dissent, often because they feel it challenges their authority and their ego. The really good ones embrace dissent as an opportunity to diagnose problems, build better teams and do better work.
There is no option in the matter really, it is the only path to doing quality work.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.