• Aryeh Brickner

So many opinions, so little time: Don’t manage your team like a WhatsApp parent group!

If you’re in a WhatsApp group with other parents from school or a playgroup etc. chances are you’ve experienced a bit of “excessive” chatter at some point. For example, say there’s a school activity planned for tomorrow when suddenly one of the parents starts questioning the need for this specific activity. Subsequently, other parents start chiming in until it becomes an endless cycle of asinine comments about an activity which is going to happen tomorrow regardless as it’s too late to cancel. (just an example)

Often, we encounter similar commentary from people at work, who either feel the need to provide their two cents on everything or we have managers who feel the need to enable everyone to provide input on topics unrelated to their area of responsibility.

Here are a few simple ways managers can deal with disruptions in a positive way.

1. Have clear lines of responsibilities. If everyone thinks they are in charge of everything, they will be inclined to voice an opinion about everything. So, make it clear who is responsible for what. This enables you to say in a meeting, “Oh that’s Tina’s decision as it relates to her client, if you have something to tell her, maybe tell her directly later.”

2. Even when you ask for an opinion, make sure it’s clear you’re just asking for their opinion but the final decision rests in the hands of the party responsible for whatever activity is being discussed.

3. Even better, don’t ask for opinions all the time. It’s called responsibility, and employees should be mostly responsible for their own areas of expertise. Are you one of those managers who believes “open dialogue”, means everyone should get a say about everything? (Don’t be one of those managers!)

4. Get the right people in the conversation. Although we’d like too, you can’t really exclude any individual parent from the class WhatsApp group. (too bad right?) But you don’t have to invite every employee to every meeting about every topic. Think long and hard about who needs to be in a meeting and why.

5. Be ready to cut someone off. If a decision has already been made and perhaps even implemented you don't have to take up people's time by listening to someone drone on about what they think. "We've already decided on what the holiday gift will be and ordered all 250 units, so there's really no need to discuss it again right now."

As a manager you want to create an environment where feedback is given at the right time by the right people. Otherwise you’ll get stuck with an endless loop of people chiming in about whether or not the color of the office wallpaper matches the company logo closely enough!

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