Article authored by Qualigence CEO and founder Steve Lowisz.
As a leader, dissent from your team can feel scary or threatening. And in HR, we already deal with our fair share of conflicts and disputes!
We often associate disagreement with disloyalty or disrespect. But disagreement is often a vital part of strong morale, team performance, and innovation.
When we disagree or debate respectfully, we think critically about the status quo. We push ourselves to explore new ideas, and most importantly, we give our teams an opportunity to voice their opinions.
Many of the best ideas in business come from disagreement. Bill Gates hated the idea of the Xbox when someone first pitched it to him!
20 years later, it’s a household name and one of the best-selling game consoles of all time. If his team had bowed to his wishes without disagreement, the company would have missed billions of dollars in revenue.
As HR leaders, we should not only permit but encourage our teams to disagree with others – including ourselves! Nobody is perfect, and great ideas can come from any level of the organization. Here are three key reasons why great HR leaders embrace respectful disagreement.
1) It Helps Us Come Up with New Ideas
As senior HR professionals, we often know our company better than anyone. We understand the dynamics of our teams, the value of our culture, the strengths our people bring to the table and the areas we need to work on. However, great knowledge of the company can also be a roadblock for new ideas and creativity.
People at different levels of the company see things from a totally different vantage point. As a result, they may quickly identify solutions, opportunities, or challenges that we are blind to. By allowing others to voice their perspectives, we gain new insights on our organization, our culture, and how we can achieve greater success.
2) Diversity of Thought Leads to Better Results – Unlocking the Full Value of Diversity
We’ve all had thoughts and plans that seemed better on paper. By seeking out different opinions on our plans, we can refine our ideas, anticipate challenges, fix mistakes, add improvements and more. In short, with the help of others, we can turn good ideas into great ideas.
Besides, if we don’t embrace disagreement, then we won’t have a truly inclusive culture. Without disagreement, we’re wasting diversity among our teams. What’s the point of hiring people from different backgrounds if everyone is expected to agree with each other?
If we want to create exceptional work environments and inspire our teams to deliver their best, diversity of thought is a must. If our team members are afraid to challenge us or offer new ideas, our work will never reach its full potential.
3) It Makes Team Members Feel Empowered and Respected
I once had a boss who would say “no” to my suggestions before I could even finish a sentence. As you can imagine, that felt terrible!
As leaders, we can bring out the best or the worst in our teams. Basic courtesy starts with asking others what they think. If we never take the time to listen or ask for someone’s opinion, we make it clear that we don’t respect them.
Conversely, if we routinely ask for other’s two cents, we show that we respect them as equals and value their input. When team members feel respected and like their voice is heard, they‘re inspired to put in the elbow grease to deliver results. It’s just common sense – people want to work for someone who respects and cares about them.
Are You Fostering New Ideas, or Smothering Them?
If HR leaders want to bring out the best in our teams, our business, and ourselves, we have to embrace respectful disagreement. You don’t have to accept every idea your team throws your way. In fact, you’ll probably reject a lot of them! And of course, you shouldn’t tolerate every disagreement or conflict within the company.
However, giving teams the opportunity to voice dissent – and giving their thoughts due consideration – goes a long way. It makes our teams feel respected, fosters innovation and a sense of inclusion, and it breeds creativity.
Next time you meet with your team, invite them to be open about their opinions. You might be surprised at how much this simple act can transform your team!
If you’re interested in connecting with other HR leaders and sharing expertise, join Dinsmore & Shohl attorney & partner James Reid and myself for our Leadership & Legal virtual live event on August 28th at 11 am.
This event is an open conversation for HR leaders to get together and brainstorm solutions to our biggest challenges.
No topic is off limits – we will be diving headfirst into issues such as remote work, diversity and inclusion, COVID-19 safety, legal issues and more.
Register for the event HERE and submit a question for our HR experts so we can provide actionable advice!