Can take ~4m to read.
Naysayers. Every team has them and nothing can kill an idea quicker than the stereotypical prelude to their actual feedback, “The problem is…”
That’s right, the problem is there is always a problem in the eyes of many of our coworkers. Still, the fact remains that we need our naysayers, these are people who will have first fleshed out any issues with what you are presenting and can only make your ideas stronger. Yes, I said it: we need naysayers. How we deal with them is going to have the most profound impact the success of your initiative, probably even more than the change itself. My favorite method for dealing with the naysayer, is to leverage their comments to make your project stronger. Some have called this mental judo because you are leveraging your opponent’s feedback to further support- and strengthen your efforts. You may even gain constituents and are assured to garner respect among your peers for your handling of the situation in a controlled way.
Yes, I said it: we need naysayers…
First, acknowledge the input even if you don’t agree with it. If the latter is the case, simply repeating what they said can open a discussion from others, for example. Who knows, someone else may shoot down the idea for you – techies are especially good at doing this and oftentimes have a better relationship among their ranks. An advancing problem from your naysayer met with a retreating problem from you techie equals a problem solved in my book.
When there really is something to their responses, be sure and publicly thank them for giving it (actually thank everyone for input, always). This goes back to supporting people’s need to belong and feel of value. I’ve even seen some who purposely leave a glaring omission in order to leave an opening for someone to speak up and add it back in. Doing so helps to find who your stakeholders are, not to mention shows you whom you can trust to deliver excellence. Watch it here, however. There may be a fine line between an easy shot and an embarrassing fail.
Lastly, and certainly not least, leverage the tendency for your naysayers to speak up as an opening for further- or advancing discussions. You may find out that someone is ready for- or wanting an extra project, looking to make a career move, or may even want to take items off your plate. In either of these cases, you are sure to push your people to advance their abilities and are more likely to have made yourself another advocate. These all push changes that I am convinced make a stronger organization and enrich your company’s culture.