Best Advice: Your Manager should expect you to speak up

You get paid to give your boss your two cents.

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Telling your boss what you really think is often seen as a career limiting move. That’s a shame, because speaking up is a cornerstone of organizational effectiveness.

In truly effective organizations, all Direct Reports at all levels are accountable for giving their Manager their “Best Advice”. To be clear, this means that the giving of advice is tied to consequence; it’s one of the things that employees are obliged to do in exchange for a paycheque.

And what, exactly, is “Best Advice”? It is any suggestion, statement or opinion that a Direct Report believes will increase effectiveness, efficiency or trust in his or her team, division or organization. For example:

  • There is a better way to do things
  • The assigned work is not possible, too easy, or not most appropriately assigned to him
  • The proposed timelines or resources are not reasonable or too generous
  • The underlying assumptions are incorrect
  • The goal has been misinterpreted

Best Advice falls out of the managerial-leadership principle of Dialogue. In order to be effective, Managers require the input of their Directs to define roles, assign tasks, resolve escalations and propel continuous improvement. Ultimately, Best Advice ensures that no value is “left on the table”, while at the same time engaging team members in their work. It is the mechanism by which Managers ensure Directs are bringing their best game.

By extension, every Manager is accountable to listen to DR Best Advice, though not to act on it. And since it is the accountability of a Manager to define the working behaviours of her team and to coach her Directs, she ensures that the advice is in scope, timely, appropriate, sufficiently thorough and that the offering and receiving of it is done constructively. Managers are obliged to explain why they are accepting or rejecting the advice.

Of course, the potential of Best Advice is severely restricted in teams where the Manager has not created an environment of trust. If a Direct Report feels that his best advice is continually dismissed, ridiculed or ignored, this invaluable source of input will dry up.

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