Companies want people who make things happen. And to make things happen, you have to speak up. Anticipating the train wreck and commenting after the train goes off the tracks doesn’t count.
What if you said what you thought, in a way other people could hear you, when you had the right to do so? Meaning, you have the relationship with the other person to tell the truth and you’ve asked permission to be candid?
6 Courageous Steps to Advance Your Career:
Look for opportunities to make things better.
Ask for permission to take the ball and run with it.
Find a way to say no, while engaging the other person in a conversation so a new approach is generated.
Be willing to go out on a limb, work hard, and fail.
Here’s how to speak up for change without being labeled as the problem person who finds flaws in everything:
Look for and present solutions, not just problems.
Offer to do the work to move towards a better way of doing things. Don’t drop problems at other people’s doors.
Ask questions versus overtly say that something is wrong. That could sound something like, “I’d love to help. Tell me more about how this works. Maybe we can insert a step to make the process better. What do you think of trying ________?” No one likes to be told he’s wrong. Asking questions elicits participation more than overtly saying, “This is broken. We need to fix it.”
Many people are afraid to speak up at work and believe that people who speak up get fired. I haven’t found this to be the case. People who work hard and produce results are typically the last people to be let go.
Say what you think in a way that is not critical. Offer solutions not just problems. Be a force for good and take an active role in making things better. And my hunch is your career will accelerate faster than you ever thought possible.
I have a nanny who works in my home. She isn’t afraid of getting sick with the Coronavirus. She was going to the gym, before gyms were closed. I couldn’t tell her not to, however badly I wanted to. I could tell her not to come to work, but that doesn’t help me. How does a nanny work from home?
You are likely in a similar situation. You canceled your spring break trip, your direct report didn’t. You are practicing social distancing, your coworker who sits in the desk next to you isn’t. You’re keeping your kids at home; your next-door neighbors are not. Your kids want to play together.
legally tell an employee or coworker what to do when they’re not working, but
you can tell your coworkers, friends, and family members that you’re uncomfortable.
You can make requests and express concern.
My son is on
the cusp of the cutoff to go to kindergarten in September. He just makes the
deadline. I’ve been asking his preschool teacher how I decide if I should send
him to kindergarten in September. His teacher’s criteria for determining if
children are ready for kindergarten is self-advocacy. Can children ask for what
they need and get their needs met. This is an interesting criterion that I see
adults struggle with all the time.
Do we (the adults)
regularly ask for what we need and want? Are we willing to be uncomfortable on
our own behalf, on our employees’ behalf?
is testing all of us. It’s testing our patience, resilience, and self-discipline.
It’s also testing our personal courage in the area of speaking up.
a few ways to talk about the coronavirus at work:
your concerns. Tell the
people you work with, “We work closely together. I’ve heard you talking about
attending parties and other events with groups of people outside of work. I am
very nervous about contracting the coronavirus virus. This is making me uncomfortable.
I can’t tell you what to do outside of work. Can we talk about what types of social
distancing we’re both willing to practice so we’re both comfortable?”
This will take
courage. If you can’t advocate for yourself, who will?
requests. Tell your
boss, “I’m really committed to the project I’m working on with _______. I’m
working very hard to stay healthy and practice social distancing. I’ve heard _________
talking about going to parties and gatherings with other people outside of work.
We’re working closely together and it’s making me uncomfortable. I want to be a
good coworker and employee and protect myself. Can you help me?”
Caveat – Vet
any conversation you plan to have with your HR person or in-house counsel. Make
sure what you ask for is legal in your home state.
“I want to be a good coworker.” “I want
to do good work on this project.” “I want to be easy to work with.”
concerns: “I’m concerned about getting sick. I’m trying
to limit my exposure to the coronavirus.”
heard you talk about spending time with groups of people outside of work.” “I’ve
noticed you spending time with groups of people.”
you feel: “This is
making me uncomfortable.”
request: “Can we
talk about how we can keep each other safe?”
Creating a safe workspace and working environment requires the courage to speak up. Plan, practice, and prepare your conversations. Don’t speak off the cuff. Vet what you plan to say with your HR person or in-house counsel. Speak from your positive intention. Be courageous. Be safe.
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