Are your employees afraid to speak up?
Amidst the recent high-profile scandal of misconduct by a person in power, many organizations are having the conversation about creating a culture where employees feel safe in speaking up. The repercussions of not speaking up can have far-reaching impacts – systemic problems in organizations as well as long-term stress and health/mental health concerns for employees.
In organizations that have created a ‘safe’ culture, leaders encourage people at all levels to offer their point of view courageously, provide feedback, and advocate for what they see as right or helpful. When people offer suggestions or ways to improve how things are currently being done, leaders let them know what will be done with their suggestions. In these same organizations, because leaders are role models for open communication, people feel both encouraged and safe in speaking up – although we know that it still takes courage.
A short employee engagement survey can be a cost-effective way to get a temperature check on how open your employees feel in speaking up, among other engagement indicators. The Centre for Character Leadership’s Employee Engagement Survey is just 30 questions, takes about 10 minutes to complete, and employees are assured of anonymity.
At the Centre for Character Leadership, we also encourage leaders to have frank conversations about this topic with their direct reports during one-on-one coaching sessions. Asking the following, or similar, questions may help to open the conversation:
- How frank are you in offering your perspective?
- Do you fear speaking up in this workplace? If so, what do you fear?
- What can we do to make it safer for you to speak up?
Kathleen Redmond, MCC