Play Devil's Advocate: Create Collaboration in the Workplace
Written by Kirsten Taggart
I’m currently taking a course called Media Criticism where we students reflect on how news organizations responded to major historical events. Perhaps made obvious by the title, our main focus is geared towards moments where journalism has “failed” society, or more precisely, failed to practice critical thinking and challenge the norm. What’s surprising is that the press’ mistakes could have been avoided simply through effective communication.
The void in communication may be due to a lack of questioning. I’ve come to think that there is a lack of “why” in present day workplace culture. As always, there are exceptions to this theory, but overall I feel that people have become hesitant to ask questions in the workforce, new media, school, etc.
Of course no one particularly wants to challenge their superiors (although a good leader shouldn’t make you feel intimidated or afraid of confrontation!), but I guarantee that without asking critical questions, creative and corporate progression will be compromised to an extent.
A diverse staff with contrasting views and opinions is the most effect way to build a constructive workplace community, and it doesn’t require a monumental shift in work ethic to change a workplace full of “yes’” into one of “what ifs?” Who will be your Chief Collaboration Officer?
Teach your team how to effectively play devil’s advocate:
- Allot a certain amount of time each week to sit down as a group and talk. Encourage people to speak openly and offer ideas and opinions. This open communication will encourage co-workers to bounce ideas off of each other and improve proposals with constructive criticism
- Opt to work with people who will challenge your thought process
- Remind people that they should avoid being defensive and instead be open to suggestions
- Create an environment that encourages openness
The point of collaborating ideas is to advance as a group and reach a collective goal. With positive thinking and a creative atmosphere, the workplace can become the ultimate environment for innovative thinking and new ideas.