Years ago, I was asked to join a group evaluation on some animated video clips. The clips were going to precede lessons for a friend’s video product. It’s something that we do here, so I was honored to jump in. I also knew many of the team members, including the ones who had created the clips we were about to view.
As they played, I was immediately surprised by the quality. You could tell that some folks worked really hard to create them, but they were nowhere as good as the rest of the video.
As the owner talked through each one, I scanned the room and looked at the faces of the team members. I was trying to get a read on what they were thinking. Finally, I realized they were all too afraid to say anything. So I did. “Hey, uh … I don’t know about anyone else, but to me … these are terrible. They are nowhere near the quality of the lessons, and I think they will considerably reduce the overall quality. I think these are unacceptable to send out of this building.”
It went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter. The owner, my friend, was not happy at all. He was upset because he had asked his team to produce something that he knew wasn’t going to work. As I looked around the room, you could see the relief on the faces of those who agreed with me.
I later pulled some of those folks aside and told them, “You have to speak up. It doesn’t matter if the owner is upset. Don’t allow sub-par quality to leave the building. It could have affected your ability to make money. Your personal opinion may be the difference between an OK outcome and a great one. Click to Tweet
They all agreed, but I knew they would always be afraid to speak up to the owner. I understood.
Later that evening, I had dinner with the owner and his wife. I was surprised when he apologized and thanked me for speaking up. He explained that he was trying to find a way to use the clips that his team has spent so much time on. But just because they had worked really hard wasn’t a good enough reason to ruin the already-great product. He then thanked me for having the … uh … confidence to say something.
Speaking up in situations takes maturity from both the person giving their opinion and the person(s) receiving it. It won’t always be as well accepted as it was in this case. Sometimes, it will be better. The decision must be made on how sharing or not sharing will affect you and those around you.
Question: How do you ensure that your team is giving their real opinions instead of what you want to hear?