Professional courage and influence - Lesson 2: your reflections


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CIPD Staff

17 Jan, 2020 10:37

Welcome to the online community learning space for the lesson: Challenge constructively. Use this forum to discuss the community reflective activity in the lesson. Read the contributions of others, ‘liking’ those you find helpful and add your unique reflections to the conversation by replying to this post. Click here to return to the lesson page at any time.

Community reflective activity:
What tips would you give to a member of staff about constructively challenging someone in a more senior role? 

  • I identify being assertive as one of my areas for development in order to make my next step up. My opportunity or requirement to put assertiveness into practice is not there too often but equally I know when I have been forced into a situation that requires it I often come out with the correct outcome. I need to build my confidence at being able to do this
  • My main tip would be to reflect before action, would it serve you, the team or org to challenge the senior leader in the moment of a meeting-- or would it better serve you to take the senior leader aside and confront the situation one on one. Each situation offers pros and cons and unfortunately the only way to learn how to get better at challenging effectively is by practicing which does mean missteps (missteps, not failures) along the way. It's important to dive into these learning opportunities of challenging a senior leader to listen to what you believe in because it's the only way you and the senior leader grow.
  • Hi - good point Allison about reflecting before choosing how to respond. I particularly liked the Ted talk on this around growing your influence including through an evidence based approach, advocating for others and understanding others perspectives.
  • In reply to Rachel :

    Love a good Ted talk!
  • In reply to Graeme:

    I think there is a bit of stigma to the word constrcutive. So liking the idea of an assertive challenge!?
  • I would definitely say, don't just jump in, you will be taken more notice of and gain credibility if your argument is backed up with facts e.g case studies, theory from credible source
  • Think about your challenge and why it is important - is there common ground that binds you e.g. best outcomes for the business that can be used to signal why you feel the challenge is important (as the Ted talk said - finding your passion!). To be aware of your reactions to challenges, for example, if the senior colleague was aggressive, how would you tackle this. For me it's about remaining calm and pausing to understand why that person is challening in that way so putting yourself in their shoes for a moment.
  • Being more assertive is definitely something I need to work on. I feel the key attributes for positive assertiveness is to not act in haste and also be sure to see things from all view points. Don't be defensive and lean from mistakes made.
  • In reply to Allison:

    considering that better is better than being good is a challenge indeed, to my thinking. The speaker's references to bounded rationality is experienced every day and perhaps negotiating more time for more relfection may enhance decision making.
  • In reply to Laura:

    Totally agree Laura!
  • I thought the TED talk from Adam Galinsky was a great reference point, particularly in speaking up for others, which can often be a significant part of our people profession role.
    Great suggestions here already but I would suggest that preparation would be key, thinking what would that person like to see as an outcome, what responses or challenges do they anticipate from the senior person etc? I would recommend to try and remain calm, which can be easier said than done.
    To have self awareness of how you may respond too is really helpful, there's some useful advice out there on using your breathing to help control your response in emotively charged situations.
    I would also offer the opportunity to discuss afterwards too, as often a debrief can be helpful.
  • In reply to Graeme:

    Hi Graeme,
    Give yourself even more credit for the challenges you have faced and the difficulties you have overcome. Self-esteem and self-confidence is the bedrock of Assertiveness. And given you have often come out with the right outcome this tells me that you have the recipe for success in your head. Go for it mate
  • Our emotional state seems to have a BIG effect on what we say and how we say it. It also has a big effect on our ability to listen to what another person is saying. So.....If you are going to challenge constructively you need to:
    1. be clear on what you want
    2. Choose the right time and place
    3. Get the words right
    And remember you are just as worthy of respect as very other human being on the planet
  • I indeed am not sure how much I am assertive myself. I always thought of myself as being someone who can send message across confidently and with a smile, with high engagement response. Yet sometimes at my last employment, I felt I am lacking exactly that - assertiveness. I start following his course to actually improve it in my professional life, not because I don’t know how to be but because I want to also have that knowledge, understand how to approach with the facts and backed information. It is in my nature yet have been put dormant at my last workplace due to feeling unconfident or in “what’s the point” mood “they’ll not hear me or will hear me and make it their own excluding me from the process” (not always but will unfortunately happen). Main reason I also have decide to do Level 5 HRM diploma and to change my working environment. So rather then giving the tips on how to be more assertive, I can give advice, acknowledge when you are not, what is your weakness and work on it. Resources are everywhere that could help you.
  • In reply to Emma:

    I have listen this one with my parter thinking it is the talk everyone should hear. He indeed made some very good point in particularly bringing ‘mama bear’ speaking up for others. As hr professionals we need to know how to speak for the people but also on behalf top management and on behalf business objectives. Like your comment.