Running a successful business with a healthy work atmosphere is all about maintaining the delicate balance in the relationship between superiors and subordinates. If you are the owner or ‘the boss’, it is but natural for you to think you are always ‘right’.
You have the power, position and prudence that have made you what you are today. You expect your employees or subordinates to agree with your every decision and even ‘learn’ from your judgment.
However, this might not always be the right approach.
Allowing employees and subordinates to air their opinion is crucial to maintaining that delicate balance that helps your business to grow. Organizations that have grown to become behemoths all encourage employees to actively participate and not just ‘do’ their work. You want people who have a mind of their own and not just ‘yes’ men.
Unfortunately, in most workplaces, disagreeing with the boss is seen as a sign of disrespect, disloyalty and dissent.
Employees who speak up are considered either brash or unable to gel with the company culture and vision. Moreover, the inherent power imbalance between the superiors and their subordinates makes it all the more difficult for people to speak up. They are afraid of being ignored in the future, overlooked for promotion and even losing their job.
However, if truth be told, it is crucial for your organization’s future for employees to speak up whenever they have misgivings about certain decisions. Since this does not happen naturally, it is important to train subordinates to disagree and superiors to accept dissent.
There are several benefits to training employees on how to disagree with their boss the right way.
Costly Mistakes can be Avoided
When superiors become overconfident, it can lead to several expensive mistakes. Having an open mind allows the free flow of information that can bring out a totally new perspective. Training both subordinates to disagree and superiors to accept their views can help you avoid mistakes and take the right decision.
Employees Feel Valued and Important
When employees are allowed to voice their dissent or views without fear, they feel important and valued. When their concerns are given a patient hearing and healthy discussions are held, their sense of belonging increases. Their participation and enthusiasm levels improve and so does their productivity.
You Save Time
Interacting meaningfully with employees and allowing them to disagree makes them more confident of themselves and their sense of responsibility increases. This way, many things get done successfully at the lower level without the top management having to interfere every time. This saves you a lot of time that you can devote to more important issues for the growth of your organization.
You can Identify and Remove Headstrong Managers
Managers who are obstinate and enjoy bullying subordinates are a liability. They may get the work done but in the long run, they vitiate the work atmosphere. And that’s highly detrimental to your business.
Such managers are typically incapable of taking advice from others or admitting their mistakes. And when things go wrong, they invariably blame their subordinates. Workers under such managers are never happy and hardly get any job satisfaction.
Reduce Attrition Rates
When you appoint an employee and train him, you spend money on developing a valuable human resource. However, if employees are not given enough space to air their views, it creates a sense of frustration in them and stymies their growth opportunities.
Such unhappy employees are sure to leave your company the moment they get a better offer. All that money you spent training an employee has just gone to waste and the attrition rate increases. You need to go through the entire process again, which is just a waste of time and money.
Retain Valuable Employees
The ‘boss’ is not always ‘right’. Once you accept that and make it obligatory for managers to listen to their subordinates, you can retain valuable employees for years. In many cases, an elderly subordinate may actually know more about a particular situation from years of experience than his new superior.
Retaining such employees is essential for your company to thrive. They always have your best interest in mind; understand your company’s vision and their knowledge can be of invaluable importance in taking the right decision.
Avoid Hasty, Last-Minute Decisions
It is typical for superiors to take a stand and then just thrust their opinion on their subordinates. And when things go wrong, you are often forced to take last-minute decisions that might not work out.
To avoid such a situation, it is always prudent to sit with the team and brainstorm the issue. With a free flow of diverse views, opinions and perspectives, you can arrive at the right decision in time.
Assertive employees (even junior workers) who can place their ideas in a fresh, logical manner should always be taken seriously. Their invaluable input can often help you to get a clearer view of the pros and cons of your decision and you get enough time to mull over it.
Create a Healthy Working Environment
Mutual respect between superiors and subordinates is crucial when you want a healthy work atmosphere in your office. This is only possible when subordinates are given an opportunity to disagree and superiors can handle such disagreements like a senior should.
Often, the views of the subordinates are not viable, they may become hyper-enthusiastic, and they may make mistakes. However, as a prudent manager, these factors should not affect your relationship with your subordinates.
Listen to them, allow them to express their opinion without fear and then guide them if they are incorrect or accept if they are right. It is a two-way learning process where both the superior and the subordinate benefits.
And ultimately it is the organization that benefits most from such healthy, mutually respectful relationships. Training employees to disagree with their boss respectfully and teaching superiors how to handle such disagreements with dignity is essential for the healthy growth of any organization.