Silence! Remember the days back in grade school when the teacher would flick the lights and call for quiet in the room? No fun. Maybe you’re not doing exactly that, but are you fostering a culture that embraces and encourages employees to speak up?
People want to be heard at their jobs, they want to have a voice, to give their input. Creating an atmosphere in which your people feel comfortable speaking up, and also feel like they’re heard is a crucial element in building an open and positive business culture.
Many organizations feel that they have this openness as part of their culture by simply saying “it’s ok to speak up”, but employees still have the feeling that if they do, the lights will get flicked or their voices will just fall on deaf ears. In order to truly create a comfortable place where employees feel ok to voice their opinions, and feel like they will actually be heard, it’s important to put specific mechanisms in place for employee feedback and ideas.
Here are 5 ideas to eliminate that “light flicking” feeling in your people:
- Put a suggestion box or feedback forum in place. This is a mechanism by which employees can voice their opinions or concerns and share their ideas. It’s always good to make anonymity optional for your people, to truly instill their confidence and comfort in being vocal.
- Set time aside during staff or quarterly meetings for employees to take the floor without having to stick to an agenda. This open forum format allows your people to drive the discussion and gives them a voice.
- Instead of laying out new policy as pure dictation, ask for feedback from your people when you roll things out. You may not have intentions of changing the policy (and maybe you just can’t), but the mere act of asking allows staff to feedback and provide their opinions which does two things: It makes them part of the process, which they appreciate. And their opinions may actually help to mold future policy decisions.
- Schedule one on ones. Not everybody feels comfortable speaking out in a group setting, or maybe they’re not compelled to submit their thoughts by way of a suggestion box. Regular five minute touches every couple of months with each of your people keeps you informed and it speaks volumes to your appreciation of their thoughts.
- Stop and chat. Passing by an employee in the hallway? Take a minute to have a “stop and chat”. Ask them how it’s going for them, if they have any concerns, if there’s anything you can do to make their work-life better. Be genuine, and do more listening than talking when you’re stopping and chatting.
Your employees are truly your most valuable resource and within them are some great ideas that will never be heard unless you give them a voice. So, keep the lights on and your ears open.