What do you do when others disagree with you?
What happens when someone pushes back and provides a differing opinion?
What comes next after another person has a differing plan?
CAD Managers get feedback and differing opinions all the time. Everyone doesn’t think the same way. Others believe they have a better way, or they just want to provide other options. They think that they should be allowed to make small changes and do things differently. Other people may think that you are not choosing the best way to get a problem resolved. What do you do when this happens?
Here are some suggestions that may help make this open atmosphere of conflicting perspectives easier to navigate.
First, I want to say that not all opinions are equal. Depending on a person’s position in the company or his/her level of experience and tenure, some may actually carry more weight than others. Not every opinion - from new hire to CEO - carries the exact same influence. Also remember that not all influence and weight comes from a persons’ position or experience. The CEO may not have a good understanding of the CAD environment to make sound suggestions. Long-term users may not have innovative ideas or want to move in a progressive direction. So take into account, when weighing input, the validity and value of the actual idea or comment and isolate it from the person providing it.
Second, remember that not all opposing ideas are bad. Don’t take the tack that the only place a good idea comes from is your own head. Do you discourage the free flow if ideas because they may come from others? Do you encourage open conversation? Check your words, actions, and body language to see if you are intimidating others into maintaining the status quo and not being creative. It can sour a good firm if a gruff exterior stymies the free flow of ideas. Keep your mind and your options open.
Now, let’s get into the actual processes of disagreements.
1. Encourage complete discussions
Isolated comments flung into conversations are not easy to turn into positive motion. Take the time to investigate these ideas and clarify these comments. Ask a few questions so that the person can better frame the idea and give it context. Make sure the idea is viable by discussing its impact. What will this track do to the current situation? Who is impacted? Why will it make things better?
2. Keep it professional
Don’t accuse or let others make joking remarks about an idea that might discourage open conversation. No idea is so bad that it does not deserve respect and discussion. It may be a very short discussion if the idea is too far out there or cost too much to implement. Unfunded ideas can die a cruel death if budget constrains limit the application of even a great initiative. Never attack the person who brought up the differing agreement. It is just another opinion, not a personal attack on you.
3. Define the approval process
Is it a majority vote that wins arguments and closes brainstorming sessions? Maybe the big boss gets the final vote? Whatever it is, make sure people know how the final decision will be made. Feelings get hurt when people think unfair methods were used to shoot down ideas.
4. If an idea is not good – define the objections
If you or a team decides not to move on an idea or suggestion, define why not. Don’t just toss it aside without a valid reason as to why it will not work. It may just be bad timing or no money. If it is not valid and never will be, then state that in combination with the exact reasons why. If there is a delaying issue, lack of manpower, or a need for funding, define when and what cost may allow the idea to move forward. This way, the contributing person has an idea about the future adoption. If everyone shoots down the idea, then the person needs to move forward and not cause division in the ranks. People need to know when to give up and move on.
By allowing healthy exchanges of ideas in a safe environment, you increase the chances of generating great ideas and improving your firm’s ability to create great projects using CAD and BIM.