IT Best Practices

When to Speak the Truth at Work

Everyone has had that moment when someone in a position of authority says something so dumb you feel your jaw hit the floor. But for some reason, everyone in the room is nodding along and acting like this is a good idea. It’s in times like these that you may have to challenge authority in order to prevent a huge mistake from occurring. In a post at his website, Art Petty explains how you should go about challenging authority for the right reasons.

The Truth Will Stop Stupidity

It’s important to ask a lot of questions when anything new is going to be implemented. Clarifying any concerns or aspects is a good way to find out what you or your company may be getting into. Now this may seem pretty intimidating at a surface level. No one wants to be labeled the “problem child” where they work. But this fear of getting the boss mad or getting fired is a sign that you’re in a toxic work environment, not that you shouldn’t speak up. Petty further emphasizes this with some personal experience with not speaking up:

In my first job out of college, I sat in a meeting where a vice-president made what we all knew was a strategic blunder. “We will not compete in the low end of the market where there is no margin.” What he missed was the high-end of the market was disappearing right in front of us. And no, I didn’t speak up. But, I thought about it, even at that early age.

Fear of speaking up is always the issue.

This goes for leaders too. If you happen to be in a leadership position, you need to be sure that people will call a bad idea out when they see it. This is not only important to you, but to your team and your company as well. If you fall on the employee side of the spectrum, then your position is a bit riskier. You might end up annoying or even angering authority figures within your company. But this is necessary to getting your point across and looking out for the well-being of others, even when one of the higher-ups may not.

Ultimately though, you need to be able to gauge how critical this is to the company. If it goes against the core values and ideals of the company, then you should probably say something. But if it’s something less critical, then you can maybe settle for asking some questions that subtly point out the bizarreness of the ideas being discussed. It all matters on how far you’re willing to go to help your company.

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