Hello, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor and in today’s podcast, I want to talk about creating a safe place for team members to share.
Everyone wants to work in a pleasant, positive, and safe environment. When people work in this kind of place, they are more motivated and engaged, they look forward to going to work each day, and it has a positive effect on their wellbeing. They also feel like they trust their employer and colleagues enough to be able to share their ideas and concerns.
But on the other side of the coin, there’s the workplace where morale is low, people are disengaged, and nobody feels safe enough to share anything for fear of ridicule or getting in trouble.
Many of us have worked in the latter, and it’s not a nice place to be.
So what might be the reasons that people don’t feel safe to say what they think?
Most businesses have grievance procedures and other mechanisms in place, but many employees still feel unable to speak up or to challenge the way that things are done. In this type of climate, not only do employees fear speaking up about problems and concerns, they also don’t feel comfortable sharing ideas on how to improve things in the business. So businesses really are missing out.
Some employees might feel it’s too ‘risky’ personally for them to speak up about things, and some don’t feel able to share out of a fear of ridicule or of not being listened to-they may have been made to feel this way in the past when they shared something.
Most fears that employees have about sharing anything usually come down to the kind of culture a business has, and the culture is almost always built from the top down. This is where you as a business owner come in.
Making team members feel safe enough to share things requires a cultural change to one where employees are actively encouraged to express their ideas and concerns, and they are made aware of the business benefits of doing so.
So how do you create a culture openness, honesty, and trust, where team members feel able and willing to share?
Start by building good relationships with your team. Show that you appreciate them and encourage them to appreciate each other. A positive working environment is one where people feel valued, and if people feel valued, they’re more likely to feel comfortable sharing.
Next, when you’re having team discussions, make sure that everyone gets the chance to contribute. This makes sure that the stronger personalities don’t always dominate the conversation and creates space for others to say their piece.
Don’t forget though, that there will be times when sensitive topics need to be discussed, or you need to ask your team for very frank and honest feedback on something. Not everyone will feel 100% comfortable enough to share in these cases, so it might be appropriate to get anonymous opinions or feedback, perhaps through a feedback form. Different people will have different limits on what they feel comfortable sharing, either with you or others.
But these differences can be harnessed and used to your advantage.
The average workplace is a mixture of people with different personalities, and you’ll usually find that communication, conduct, and performance issues boil down to personality clashes and a mismatch between how different people handle conflict or like to do things. You may have seen in previous blogs and podcasts that I offer DISC sessions as part of my packages.
DISC assessment is a great way to understand different personality types, what makes them tick, how they handle conflict, and where they can best be used in your business. Imagine if your team members really knew each other and understood how they can work together better. This would make for a far more positive and harmonious working environment where people feel safe and comfortable enough to share whatever they want to.
A team that works well together, and a team that celebrates their wins together is almost always a successful one. No matter how big or small the success, everyone plays their part, so it should be acknowledged and celebrated. This helps people feel appreciated and shows them that their hard work is a very important part of the bigger picture. People who feel appreciated do more than expected, and they aren’t afraid to contribute ideas or share concerns either.
A harmonious team works well together and plays well together. Your employees are human beings, as are you, so make sure to arrange time together away from work. Whether it’s after-work drinks or a team-building day, time spent building feelings of trust go a long way towards creating a positive working environment.
Trust is something that needs to be earned, and it’s so easily lost, but it’s an essential ingredient for a positive and safe workplace. In order for you team to trust you, you need to show that you trust them, by not micromanaging, or taking over tasks that you should be delegating to them, and trusting them to do them to a good standard. If your team feels that you trust them to just get on with things, they’ll feel more capable, confident, and positive, and they’ll feel like you’ll be more receptive to listening to what they have to say.
Finally, after a long week, get together as a team, just for a short time, and discuss what you’ve learned and what you’ve achieved. Keep it positive so that everyone leaves the office feeling great and looking forward to a new week.
Creating a positive and safe workplace where people feel able to share their ideas and concerns, work to the best of their ability, get on well with colleagues, and feel valued is important for you, your team, and for the health of your business. Try some of my tips and see how much of a difference it makes.
Want some help then why not book a discovery call?