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? 

  • In reply to Laura:

    I'm not sure I even like the word 'assertive'. I sure don't like aggressive. Being a lot more experienced now, I see how I let lots of things go in the past - and still sometimes do. Especially when caught out and I don't have time to think.

    I use words like 'I'm not feeling ...' or 'I am having a reaction to that and am not comfortable with...'. I prefer to use feelings words as that's what is going on within me - a reaction, a sense of disturbance.

    Just creating space is sometimes all that's needed. 'I need to think on this a bit'. 'I'm not sure I have all I need to make that call' or 'Let me ponder this for a short time' may give you the time to construct your response and therefore not feel the need to be super confident without your approach in making that so.

    Being assertive has technical know-how - positive stance etc. yet to me is guided by how you feel. Anxious and being a bit hijacked are not good foundations for being confident. So allowing yourself the space and time to build that confidence is better than any tricks or phrases that some might say you should use.
  • Assertive appears to be a word used a lot in this context. I'd encourage people not to be put off by this term. Its just about being clear on what you want, choosing the right time and place and then getting the words right.
  • So I am currently faced with the challenge of tackling a manager who repeatedly undermines me and excludes my opinion.
    I am to have a face to face meeting with the individual next week, the learning has given me some good pointers on how to tackle the individual; I will use specific examples of recent situations but offer a scenario in whereby if the situation was approached differently (providing an example) it would both have a more positive impact on internal communications and encompass our organisations key values
    Hopefully by highlighting these key points it will provide the manager with some food for thought and make them reflect on their own actions.
    Wish me luck - people!
  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Good luck Cheryl! I am sure everything will go well for you and your manager.
    I for change have changed organisation completely. Tried but unfortunately there were some already preadopted bad habits I couldn't fix. Or I didn't have will doing anymore (4years).

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Hi Cheryl, Keep it short is what I would say. Say for example I was co-training with someone and they did the same to me. All I would say is....Cheryl can I have a quick word about how we are working together, When I was running that discussion and you came in and said 'I think the point Chris is trying to make is' I felt really undermined. Please don't do that again. Be prepared for them to get defensive. Not wanting to dial the pressure up on you here but you've probably only got one crack at this so the less you say the better. Lets face it you would rather not have to say this and I bet they won't want to hear it. So the less said the better
  • In reply to Chris:

    Hi Chris, the reason I have chosen to challenge is because the happens on a regular occurance. We do not work in the same eoffice so it adds to the situation (as i would have addressed this already) but other people eare also picking up on the fact she seems to have some kind of issue with me. E.g. we use salesforce for our clients (not that the service we porvide is sales) anyway you can post on a feed just this week the individual posted about the various logs we hold, hazzards, mentioning the individual who updates the log and critical incidents and safeguarding (which i maintain) with no mention of me. 2 individuals win our manchester office oicked up on this with no prompts. It seems like soemthing and nothing but it happens on a weekly basis.
  • In reply to Cheryl:

    If something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. Sounds like you are going to do the right thing. Happy to share ideas on performance management by the way.
  • Update - Challenge completed, the meeting went well in an earlier meeting that day I suggested to the individual that she was well positioned in the organisation to champion change and went into detail on how to make change for the better (others are likely to follow suit).
    I explained to the individual concerned how her actions, how she worked and how she approached situations affected me and compared it to a personal experience of her own in which a employees actions had made her feel so anxious it had made her avoid the office and the result was astounding.
    I received and email later that evening thanking me for my honesty and my delivery which was considered and professional and that she would take everything I had said on board
  • In reply to Chris:

    PM - perfect how do I go on about getting in touch about this?
  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Brilliant. Well done
  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Well done! So pleased for you and wish you great career
  • As a new student member, at the start of my learning and development career in a very male orientated sector (mining), I find I have to be assertive on a daily basis. Managers often come to me when training has not been completed by individuals in their team, asking for extra time or asking if there is a quicker way of completing the learning.
    As a relatively new member of staff (1 year service), it can sometimes be difficult to stand my ground whilst I am still building my credibility and reputation within the team.
    My main advice would be speak to others as you would want to be spoken to. Explain the benefits to them of completing a task the way you suggest, and offer to help and support them to do this as much as possible. Team work makes the dream work, and colleagues in the same company should always be working together for the greater good of the business. If you can show that you genuinely want to help, that shines through and most managers will see that.
  • I would say be prepared to explain your reasoning for challenging someone in a methodical way. In my experience managers have come to me with problems and what they'd like to do, which may not be workable for a number of reasons. Don't just bat their ideas away because you then put up an immediate brick wall. Put yourself in their shoes to try and understand the predicament they're in and talk through your ideas for a solution and explain how it helps them achieve their end goal.
  • I think there‚Äôs something to be said also about where a challenge takes place - capitalising on being in an environment where gaining an audience of advocates to win over & support your position is an advantage whilst also occurring in a time & a place where the focus is on the matter being addressed, as opposed to a one on one conversation at a later date with the focus being on the challenge itself, & not the matter originally being discussed