When asked, almost every organization will say that they value good communication. How true that is in practice depends on the level of open discussion in the company. Are employees free to express their concerns? Are those concerns acted on or pushed to the side? Is there a structured system of feedback in the team?
Effective communication and the willingness to challenge the status quo are essential for problem-solving, creativity, and adaptability in the workplace. When employees feel safe voicing their opinions, businesses can thrive.
Here are five ways to empower your employees and promote an open, communicative environment in your workplace.
1.) Cultivate Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is the cornerstone of open dialogue. The term was defined by Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”
Leadership plays a pivotal role in creating an atmosphere where employees feel secure enough to voice their opinions and challenge existing norms. Executive actions and processes greatly influence a workplace’s culture; if they declare a process but do not follow it themselves or if they push cultural values without backing that up with action, it will destroy employee trust. Don’t worry; the rest of the steps outlined here will help improve psychological safety in your organization.
2.) Create Clear Communication Channels
Make sure to establish clear channels of communication. By setting a cadence of regular meetings, town halls, and ‘office hours’ for executives, you will increase opportunities for more collaboration and gathering diverse feedback. Make sure these meetings are purposeful and feel valuable to the attendees; you don’t want this trust-building process to end up creating more work for them!
Make sure employees have a way to deliver anonymous feedback. When this happens, don’t focus on discovering who sent it; focus on ensuring that feedback is implemented and changes are made as needed.
3.) Offer Constructive Feedback and Conflict Resolution
One of the most important parts of creating a safe environment for discussion and challenge is to find a way to provide constructive feedback. Just as an organization works to receive and implement feedback, employees need to do the same.
It can be hard for employees to accept and implement feedback. They may feel personally attacked or become nervous, thinking their jobs are at risk if they get criticized. It’s crucial to find a way to deliver feedback that is helpful, actionable, and effective. You can help ease feelings of anxiety by cultivating a workplace that cares about feedback. Demonstrate giving and receiving feedback positively and work on detailed employee development plans to address concerns in a constructive way.
4.) Focus On Training and Skill Development
Invest in training programs that focus on effective communication and conflict resolution. Ongoing skill development will help maintain a culture of openness.
One of the best ways to work on training and development is to use a suite of multi-science assessment tools. Gaining a shared understanding and vocabulary around behavior, motivation, emotional intelligence, and more will empower people to understand themselves and others.
5.) Maintain a Continuous Improvement Mindset
Creating a safe space for discussion and challenge is an ongoing process. Continuously seek feedback and adapt to maintain a thriving workplace culture. When you adopt a growth mindset throughout an organization, you show your employees you care about improvement rather than just telling them that you do.
Move Forward With Open Discussion
Creating a safe environment for discussion and challenge isn’t an easy task, but it will be more than worth it. It improves employee engagement, skill development, and innovation in your workplace culture. By prioritizing open dialogue and embracing diverse perspectives, organizations can unlock their full potential.