What To Do When You Disagree With Management

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As a front line supervisor or manager, you might find yourself in this predicament: you’ve been told by the management team to take a certain message down to your team, but you disagree with it. You’re not buying in personally. How can you handle this?

Ask for more clarification.

Maybe you don’t understand the background of the decision, why the decision was made or what the policy is. You could find out more so that you could gain a better understanding of the decision.

Have an attitude of experimentation.

Most of us can’t tell ahead of time whether a certain decision or policy is going to be effective or ineffective until we give it a try. If you have that mindset of experimentation, and you’re open to trying different things, you wouldn’t pre-judge whether it’s going to be effective or not.

Stop overreacting to the push-back that you might see in your frontline team.

So, you go ahead and announce the policy. Many leaders get uncomfortable when their team challenges them on the policy, and/or puts them in a predicament that says, “Do you personally agree with this or not?” If your team ever corners you about a policy and says, “What do you think about this?” just watch that you don’t take the bait and instead, you take a more neutral stance, which is, “You know what? Whether I totally agree with it or not, I just know it’s something that we have to do, and I’m willing to give it a try. Things could change in the future, but right now, this is the direction that we’re going.”

Everyone eventually has a disagreement with management. The key is knowing how to handle it properly. Click To Tweet

If you take that management message, realize of course that you are an agent of the management team. It isn’t us and them. It’s us, one leadership team. It’s important that you as a frontline leader carry those management messages right to the shop floor, even when you disagree with them.

Now, of course, in the alternative, you might want to pass along any feedback that you get back up the chain so that it can be considered at the management level. You might even get a little resistance from the management team when you push back on some of the messages. Just ignore a little bit of that resistance. Go ahead and give your feedback, because it might result in a change.

Nothing is ever set in stone in organizations. Many things are fluid and changing, based on new information. Part of your job as the front line leader is to pass down the information in one direction but also then bring the information back to the management team, so they can make even better decisions, going forward.

Let me know in the comments below, how have you handled decisions you haven’t necessarily agreed with in the past?


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