When Your Values Require You to Take a Stand
Sometimes, some situation really offends your values or sense of self. You feel the urge to speak up. But, if you can, spend a few minutes before you do so, deciding whether to go ahead.
Who are you doing it for?
There are a variety of reasons to confront a perceived wrong. Are you taking a stand on behalf of:
The company? You may see or participate in some event which you know will damage the company’s reputation and, in the longer term, your job.
Take a stand? It’s very noble of you to be concerned and every boss in the company would applaud you. Unless they already know of the problem and don`t want to fix it. Then you are in trouble. So, the question is, is it worth jeopardizing your job to safeguard the company`s good name?
The company’s customers? You may know something about the company or its products which customers should know—financial double-dealing, unsafe products, etc.
Take a stand? A judgement call. One of the criteria is probably how much hurt is inflicted on the customer. Threatening safety is one thing; paying a buck more on a product is another. Being an advocate for the customer within the company will not, surprisingly, win you friends. I know it`s wrong but there you are. But you may still need to go ahead if it is important.
Your colleagues? Perhaps you see a boss brow-beating or otherwise abusing colleagues. They are just taking it but you know it is wrong. You want to speak up on their behalf.
Take a stand? Gosh, I know I sound hard-hearted but even here I think you need to pause. Most especially, you need to consider whether your colleagues cannot or choose not to defend themselves. If they cannot defend themselves, then it may well be within your value system to speak up. If they choose not to, then is it your job to ride in on a white horse to save them? I’ll have more to say about this one in a later post.
Yourself? You are deeply and morally offended by something happening in the company. You could not look yourself in the mirror if you didn`t speak up.
Take a stand? This is the only time when I would unequivocally say speaking up is worth it. As I have discussed in my book,_______, I think that people sometimes end their careers with a sense of bitterness and resentment because they have not spoken up when they should have. You need to expect that there will be consequences to speaking up and I will discuss these in the next post, but it may still be worth doing.
When is the ideal time to take a stand on values?
Well, probably never, but some times are worse than others. Don`t do it in the heat of the moment if you can avoid it. As with any other touchy conversation, do it in a private spot and prepare what to say.
Generally, avoid doing this on a Friday afternoon and then leaving your boss to stew over the weekend and build up negative thoughts. If you think there is any chance of resolution, do it early in the week to allow for opportunities to discuss it further.
Because how you take a stand is important, I`ll walk you through how in the next post.