Protecting Your People

I haven’t read the article yet, but Ann Oliveri pointed me to the cover story in Fast Company magazine about Google and this great quote:

"We argue about strategy and whether our products are good or bad, whether we’re building the right stuff. We argue about everything. But you want conflict to thrive in a supportive way. At heart, I’m an introvert, but I’ve learned to enjoy the give and take of ideas here. We work hard to protect people who argue."

There is plenty being written about the positive and constructive nature of conflict in organiations, but I really like the last sentence: they protect people who argue.

Protecting people is an important job for leaders and managers, and it is frequently done unconcsciously. We "protect" people by sanctioning or supporting their behavior, which is often done implicitly. Have you really thought about the kind of behavior that is worth protecting in your office?