Avoid HiPPO problem at work

Are wild hippos evading the workplace? No, but HiPPO—accepting the “highest paid person’s opinion” as the most valuable—certainly is an issue.

Why is it a problem? Because it prevents you from gathering much-needed feedback from other members of your team. Here’s how to prevent it:

Conversate—don’t interrogate. Often, when lower-level employees share an idea, employees up the ladder will immediately point out flaws or pelt them with questions until they abandon the idea. Instead, treat the situation as an opportunity to learn more and shape ideas.

Increase transparency. Provide everyone with information—not just those at the top. When everyone has equal access to information, they can make stronger decisions and come up with workable ideas.

Encourage people to explore new ideas. When given time to research, experiment and evaluate potential risks—without fear of failing—they will be freer to come up with ground-breaking ideas.

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— Adapted from “What A Former Google Manager Can Teach You About Your Company’s Bias Toward HiPPOs,” Gwen Moran, Fast Company, www.fastcompany.com.