Disagree without being disagreeable

Managers need to seek out dissenting views. Because it's difficult and often intimidating to deliver bad news to one's superior, managers need to actively encourage their teams to disagree with them. So, if managers don't and people avoid these interactions, problems will fester, making situations worse than they need to be.

While disagreement is important, it doesn't help anyone if you are disagreeable and no one wants to work with you. It's a delicate balance. Take your responsibility seriously.

Here are some useful rules to live by:

  1. Focus on solving problems. Conversations about assigning blame aren't productive.
  2. Knowledge, not rank in an organization's hierarchy, should drive participation in a conversation. Sometimes the best ideas will come from junior people.
  3. Triage immediate risks before doing anything else.
  4. There needs to be a clear owner of every project.