tion, you can try researching the problem and providing an alternative plan.
(You will always be taken more seriously if you can provide another solution
instead of just saying the current plan
is a bad idea.)
Sometimes you will not change
anyone’s mind. If this is the case,
then it’s time to shift your perspective and implement the change as it
has been outlined to you. Even so,
there is still a benefit to understanding the reasoning behind a change
you don’t agree with.
As a leader, you do not want to tell
your team the reason things are changing is “because ______ made me do it.”
That makes it seem like you have no
power, as though you do things just because you are told to. It certainly won’t
inspire confidence in your team or
make them any more likely to embrace
Instead, you want to explain that you
are implementing a change because
of XYZ reason. If questioned, you can
mention you shared concerns about
the plan with your leaders, but then
reiterate the reasoning behind the current plan with your team. Ultimately, it
is your job to commit to the organization’s strategy and help your team succeed within that strategy.
There is never a 100% right answer
at work. There are just different approaches and trade-offs with each approach. It’s not your job to agree with
your leadership 100% of the time, but it
is your job to make the company as successful as possible.
So, when a decision is made that
does not make sense to you, here are
A. Take the emotion out of it—wait a
day or two if you need time to clear your
B. Don’t disagree; ask about the context and reasons for the change.
C. Start with your manager or the
main decision maker if you have a prior
relationship, and then escalate up the
chain of command together (rather
than just emailing your thoughts to the
D.Research and present alternative options that will achieve the same
E. If you do not succeed in swaying
the decision maker, then support the
plan of action. Be sure to share the con-
text and reasoning with your team, and
then do everything you can to make the
situation better (which can be helping
the cause succeed, mitigating fall-out,
and so on).
4. Your manager gives you
I have a love/hate relationship with
feedback. I love it because it is necessary to improve, but I hate it because
no matter how much I try, I can’t help
but take it personally.
No matter how amazing you are at
your job, you will sometimes get feedback about things you could be doing
better. It can be difficult to hear, especially if you are someone who works really hard all the time. When it comes to
negative feedback, it is important to reframe the conversation. Feedback isn’t
a bad thing. It is a gift, and you should
always adopt a growth mind-set and
see it as a chance to improve.
I once had a manager give me some
feedback on a meeting I had been part
of. The meeting had gone off the rails,
and I had done my best to get people
back on track and focused. My manager hadn’t been there, but he had been
told by other people in the meeting
that my tactics had rubbed some people the wrong way.
In the moment, I was frustrated. I
did not agree with the feedback at all,
so I wanted to get to the bottom of it.
This was a big mistake. Suddenly, my
boss was on the defensive. I was asking him really direct questions: “What
does that mean?” and “What could I
have done differently?” I was forcing
him to explain a situation he didn’t really know about.
It harmed my relationship with that
manager, and I had to do a lot of work
to repair it.
I talked to my mentor about the situation, and my mentor reminded me
that every time you get feedback it is an
opportunity to grow. It is valuable, because it is a chance to learn more about
how you can be better.
Keep in mind that as difficult as it
is to receive negative feedback, it isn’t
always easy for your manager to give
that feedback either. No one really en-
joys conveying bad news. So, handling
it the right way is also an opportunity
to create a positive encounter with your
manager. When you get feedback that
hurts or that you do not agree with, try
to remain calm in the moment. Focus
on slowing down your breathing, be
aware of your heart rate, and try to keep
your face relaxed.
Then say, “I hear you. I will be more
mindful of that in the future.”
That’s it, and the only pattern for
If your manager has more to say,
he or she will say it. If you are not clear
on exactly what the person means or if
you are genuinely interested in hearing suggestions for what you could do
next time, ask. But don’t snap at this
person or start giving them the third
degree about the feedback. If you think
you might react emotionally or angrily,
then simply say the phrase noted here,
thank your boss for the feedback, and
You can always send an email message later, after you have had a chance
to collect your thoughts, then get
further clarification at that time. Let
your boss know you have been thinking about it and took the feedback to
heart. Ask in an open and authentic
way for advice.
Look for patterns and be the version
of yourself that you want to be.
Challenges come up all the time at work.
Spend time now thinking about how
you want to be seen at work, and then
think about how that version of you
would respond to the challenges that
you could encounter. When you have a
plan in place, you are much more likely
I hope your find these tips useful,
and if you have additional ones to add
to the mix, please leave a comment.
Views from the Top
People and Process
Kate Matsudaira ( katemats.com) is an experienced
technology leader. She has worked at Microsoft and
Amazon and successful startups before starting her own
company, Popforms, which was acquired by Safari Books.
Copyright held by author/owner.
Publication rights licensed to ACM.