Building a “Speak-Up” Culture in the Workplace
By Jonathan Wright
Empowering team members to speak out and speak-up when they witness opportunities for improvement within the workplace can fundamentally improve your organization in immeasurable ways. Speak-up culture is a relatively new concept that has quickly grown in popularity over the last few years. Yet, despite the increasing recognition surrounding this innovative idea, there remains a lack of authenticity and effectiveness with which speak-up culture is implemented and supported.
What is Speak-up Culture?
Speak-up culture involves creating safe spaces where team members feel comfortable voicing their genuine concerns regarding behaviours or systems they see as counterintuitive or counterproductive to corporate culture. Not only does speak-up culture help prevent disasters by raising red flags on potential crises, but it also creates room for team members to bring forth transformative ideas to seize upon opportunities for growth.
How Do You Create a Speak-Up Environment?
Organizations of any size can benefit from creating and sustaining a speak-up culture. However, mid-to large-scale companies, where leadership is more likely to be removed from day-to-day operations, will see significant and far-reaching potential when they support team members to speak-up. This is because your decision-makers cannot be everywhere at all times.
When focusing on an overarching strategy, it is easy to lose sight of the nitty gritty that makes your organization tick. However, by empowering your client-facing team members, managers – and every team member in between – to recognize opportunities for improvement and know their voices will be heard and valued when articulating them, you will enhance your corporate culture and performance from the inside out.
Lead by Example to Build Comfort Around Speaking Up
It is not enough simply to tell your employees you want them to speak-up. You need to build an environment of trust, vulnerability and safety to increase the likelihood that anyone will take you up on your offer. By cultivating leaders with great communication skills and who react positively to feedback, you will foster a more dynamic and equitable working environment. It’s important to reward them rather than silencing or scolding team members for identifying areas of risk. Either through tangible bonuses or qualitative celebration, going beyond making it “OK” for team members to voice their position toward showing them their ideas will be warmly welcomed.
Empower your Team to Speak-Up
How you respond to team members who choose to speak-up will have lasting consequences – especially if the experience is negative. Think strategically about building everyday opportunities for inclusive decision-making and leadership modelling, and empower your leadership team and team members with the tools for productive conversations and conflict resolution to manage these areas in ways that build respect and resilience. Move towards an accountability model that uplifts rather than blames, and you will begin to see how diversity of thought positions your company for a more inclusive, innovative and exciting future.
Partner with Learn2 to Benefit from Speak-Up Culture
Opening yourself – and your company – up to what can be perceived as criticism is scary. Encouraging a speak-up culture requires courage as much as it does thoughtful processes and careful management. Our Learn2 professional development specialists are well-equipped with the language, best practices and objective lenses to develop and nurture a fruitful speak-culture within your company. We are here to mitigate risk and protect your brand’s best interests while pushing the needle forward in shared decision-making and corporate modernization.
Reach out to our team today, and let’s look at areas where we can build new structures and build upon established frameworks to encourage inclusive and authentic leadership. Together, we will create and implement the underpinnings of a feel-good feedback system, so your team members recognize their full value, and your leadership feels comfortable – and empowered – to cultivate it.
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