Managing the Naysayer on Your Team
Most teams have at least one “opposer” — that person who always plays the devil’s advocate. The opposer may be brilliant and driven, but their pattern of critiquing and disagreeing can wear a team down. And yet opposition is essential for effective, productive teams. So what can a manager do to welcome a naysayer’s contributions without personalizing what feels like an attack? First, understand that these people almost never have bad intentions — they are usually trying very hard to do something they see as valuable and crucial for the good of the team. Encourage everyone on the team to share an opposing view to normalize and operationalize dissenting opinions. Then really listen to, consider, and evaluate the ideas. And ask everyone to articulate when they are in agreement so their comments will be seen as balanced. Ultimately, you should try to see opposing views as a sign of team health.