How to Take a Stand or Challenge Convention
Whether you take a stand on something is entirely up to you. Only you can decide that. But how you challenge convention can lower or increase the chances of continuing to earn a pay check.
Don`t do a spur of the moment, blow your gasket thing. It`s too important. Take a moment to think through what to say.
Be clear. Sometimes, moral outrage can be diffuse. What exactly is bothering you? Is it the problem or the cover-up? Can be both but get it clear in your mind.
Limit the scope. `You always do that!` is not a way to create the right conditions. There may be various transgressions but either find an umbrella term (e.g. management style) and use the various issues as examples, or cite the most egregious item to focus on.
Plan the conversation.
You can’t determine exactly how the conversation will go. But keep the key points in mind:
- A concise and clear statement of the concern
- Any hard facts you can use to support your contention
- The resolution (specifics, please) which would satisfy you
The conversation to challenge the status quo
As discussed previously, pick a time and place for a private conversation.
|You:||Hi, Kristen, got a moment?|
|Kristin:||Yeah, just finished the day’s e-mails.|
|You:||Something has been bothering me.||Keep the issue focused on you.|
|Kristin:||Oh, yeah? What?|
|You:||I’ve noticed that people accept gifts from our suppliers.||Probably including Kristin. Keep it general.|
|Kristin:||Ah, that’s just the way things are done. Don’t worry about it.||Expect her to minimize the problem.|
|You:||But it’s not just Christmas. Last year, people got free vacations from Metallurgica.||Use facts to counter.|
|Kristin:||Scott, you know our take-home pay isn’t great. These are just perks.||And justify.|
|You:||But some are valuable. A Rolex and some really pricey ear-phones.|
|Kristin:||So what’s your point?||Be clear on your objective.|
|You:||I think it would help our mandate if the gifts were used to benefit our clients.|
|Kristin:||So, a homeless guy needs a Rolex?||Ridicule also possible.|
|You:||No, but we can sell it and put the money into our budget.||You didn’t react to the barb and kept your cool.|
|Kristin:||Good luck in getting your colleagues to agree to that!||She’s not taking responsibility.|
|You:||But if it was the agency’s policy…||You did not say ‘you could order them.’ Keep the words as neutral as possible.|
|Kristin:||Scott, I know you mean well but don’t upset the applecart.|
|You:||But how do we know that bids from suppliers are fairly assessed?||Note the use of ‘we’ not ‘you.’ Includes you in the problem.|
|Kristin:||Are you accusing your colleagues of taking bribes?||This is getting heated. If you can prove your case, say so. If you can’t…|
|You:||No, of course not. But the optics seem problematic.|
What to expect
The conversation could go on for much longer and might get even more heated. The challenge is to keep your cool and reiterate your main points.
It would be very optimistic to expect Kristin to see the errors of her ways and change the policy, especially if she herself benefits from the gifts right at that moment. There is a possibility that, after reflection, Kristin might be able to see your point. But don’t count on it. Remember, the goal is not to win. The goal is to take a stand. After this conversation, you may or may not decide to take the issue to Kristin’s boss but even if you don’t, you need to expect some consequences. Next post.