SPEAKING UP - GETTING A COMPANY TO LISTEN
One of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced was speaking up at work. At times, even though you clearly know right from wrong, telling leadership about a critical problem is still scary. Why? Because no matter the culture, the context or the issue, you feel like you are at risk for losing your job.
I learned a lot from my own experience (I didn’t lose my job but I was edged out of leadership). Now listening to colleagues and friends, I realized my experience is not unique. Employees see problems and want to help the company, yet the fear of job loss is all too real.
What can leaders do to help employees feel comfortable speaking up? First your culture has to support it which means you walk the walk when it comes to creating a safe space for employees. Second, you need to look at your current mechanisms. Do you have a “anonymous email box” that really isn’t anonymous? Do you have a third party that can field issues without bringing politics into the mix? If you do not, it’s difficult to believe you truly want employees to let you know when something egregious is going on.
Finally, in your policies you should outline some specifics about speaking up. Should employees have some notes to support their concern (dates, issues, etc.)? Can you demonstrate what people can expect for speaking up with some stories (not directions) that people can understand and envision?
Speaking up in an organization is stressful, upsetting and yet critical if companies really want to address any bad practices happening. This type of communication can be exhausting for an employee even before they have “the talk” with whomever they are confiding in. Some extra steps to make this a safe process will pay off in a strong culture and company in the long term.
Want to know your communication strengths so you can determine how to approach a tough work situation? Contact me for a no-obligation conversation.