The following suggestions from team leaders often correct active disengagement. Here’s an example.
A friend and I were having lunch the other day. We got around to the topic of work and she told me that another person quit in her department.
I said, “Another?”.
She responded, yes. Over the past couple of months at least four people quit and two from her department.
I asked, “Why are they quitting do you think?”
She shrugged and indicated that there are some problems at work. A few people have spoken up about problems they see, but mainly people just get fed up and quit.
I have often wondered why people don’t speak up about issues affecting their work quality and other matters of importance to them personally. Yes, many people are still figuring out how to be effective when working remotely. Is this a reason?
I have also wondered if people feel skilled enough to have potentially difficult conversations or is speaking up something they avoid.
I decided to poll people in my Team Leader group to field their opinions on speaking up at work.
The following are ideas they mentioned.
Suggestions from team leaders
Psychological safety negated by fear of consequences
When people think that they will be punished in some way for presenting an alternative view or speaking up, (something I shared in our TIGERS newsletter) they will keep their thoughts to themselves. They believe it is safer to not say anything. And this seems to track with what my friend was telling me.
Sometimes they just quit, perhaps due to previous bad experiences.
How to mitigate for this
As a leader it is important to have one-on-one conversations with your employees to discover if anything is frustrating them, and to determine what is working for them and what is not. Checking in on their off-work hobbies is also good. For example, you discover that someone is a runner. Wouldn’t it be great to connect them with runners from other departments?
So let me ask you.
What would be the benefit to the employee?
How would this benefit you?
Lack of ability
When I was developing Genuine Communicator™, my research discovered that over 59% of employees in many organizations said they didn’t know how to bring up tough topics, give feedback, stop disruptive behavior, remove themselves from gossip conversations or share their insights with their teams. As a result, they often remained silent or felt like doormats or victims within the workplace.
Often issues were taken home and affected their home life. Others who did make an effort to speak up or set boundaries, said the effort wasn’t worth the outcome.
Fifty-nine percent (and then some) is a fairly large percentage, wouldn’t you agree?
How to mitigate for this.
Train your employees. I’ve made Genuine Communicator a micro-training platform to ensure employees have time to work through and digest their training so both skills and attitudes come easier over time.
For some people it is easier to avoid speaking up altogether if they believe doing so will result in conflict. Perhaps they lack the emotional intelligence to keep themselves in check when defensiveness from disagreement pops up.
How to mitigate for this.
In Genuine Communicator we cover conflict strategies and provide examples of responses to situations that people can modify to make their own. For example, one person who lacked emotional intelligence decided that asking a question such as, “Why do you say that?”, provided more information and helped them settle down and be less defensive.
Communication is a skill. So is resolving conflict, which is understanding why a person feels the way they do, or what the world looks and feels like from their perspective so you can get to a mutually satisfying outcome. More often than not, what they say and feel makes sense if you were seeing the world from their perspective.
Not wanting to offend someone.
This is fairly common for people in their 20’s to early 30’s to want to maintain good relationships with others. For many it is easier to let things go than risk causing negative feelings. These are the same people who will avoid trash-talk because they understand that put-downs lead to shut-down and shut-out. Think FOMO.
As a result, some managers know how to manipulate them with put-downs. And, this is not exclusive to this age group. Examples are, “I didn’t ask you for your ideas.” Then other rude comments like that spiral down from there.
In my view, this is one reason why there is such high turnover in this age group.
How to mitigate for this.
Ask questions, listen, and make it safe for people who desire harmony and good relationships to share their insights in private. This is why one-to-ones are so important. Nothing will destroy trust with these employees more than coming at them with put-downs.
Also, let them know how they are doing. Be specific about what you have seen or heard that deepens their sense of belonging and for becoming solid members of the team — of us.
Yes, there are people who are more introverted and benefit from having time to think about things. Once they do, everyone else has moved on.
And perhaps the organizational culture is simply too obstructed. For example, in the job interview candidates hear that there is a culture of openness and honesty. In reality it isn’t. Some VP’s don’t want to hear about problems in their turf. Then there are feelings of distrust, financial panic and disengagement.
From a TIGERS 6 Principles™ perspective, anytime genuineness, in the form of openness that is respectfully sincere, frank and forthright is not practiced, outcomes are measurable in an organization’s bottom line. Learning, problem-solving, decision-making, conflict resolution and collaboration all suffer. These outcomes frequently cost you money.
In my view, encouraging people who don’t speak up to share their views is one of the most important skills that face managers today.
Copyright, TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton
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