Leadership

Daily Buzz: Create a Voice-Rich Culture

By / Feb 6, 2019 (PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

To improve workplace environments, leaders should promote a culture of speaking up. Also: ideas for more inclusive events.

If there’s a problem at work, you’d hope your team members would speak up. Yet research shows only 1 percent of employees feel “extremely confident” airing their concerns, and another 33 percent say their organizations don’t support a work environment where speaking up is acceptable.

Psychologists have named the behavior of speaking up at work “employee voice,” which tends to be upward, constructive communication in its intent and challenging in content. Khalil Smith and David Rock, executives at the NeuroLeadership Institute, and Chris Weller, an editor there, have studied employee voice—and leaders play a big role in determining whether a workplace cultivates or shies away from speaking up.

“While our research team initially started studying voice as a way of addressing harassment and other high-stakes breaches of ethics, we discovered that speaking up doesn’t just discourage problematic behaviors; it encourages positive ones like creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving,” they say in a post for Quartz At Work. “That means when leaders create the conditions for voice, they can make smarter, more creative decisions and root out questionable behaviors before they fester into something larger.”

To create a voice-rich culture, the group suggests starting meetings with an invitation for everyone to share their input. Leaders should also consider withholding their opinions until the end, which will allow team members to offer a wide array of ideas without feeling like their solutions are too much.

“When leaders make an active effort to solicit others’ views, they hold the power to radically shift how their organization functions,” the team says. “Without false expertise plaguing meetings and silence reigning in moments of questionable behavior, teams will feel empowered to freely debate new ideas, approach colleagues with confidence, and develop greater individual senses of agency.”

A New Kind of Meeting Experience

Creating an inclusive event is no easy feat. One idea: Offer attendees different sensory experiences. For example, a sensory dinner, held in an unlit space, forces guests to rely on and work together—without the bias of knowing what others look like.

Gina Badenoch, the founder and CEO of Capaxia and Ojos que Sienten (Eyes that Feel), says in an interview with Meetings Today that such experiences outsmart unconscious bias and allow people to connect on a deeper level.

Other Links of Note

Trying to reach new members? The Hootsuite blog suggests the Facebook Lookalike Audiences tool, which reaches people similar to current customers.

Every association approaches learning differently, but it’s not technology that makes your organization innovative, it’s what you do with it, says the WBT Systems blog.

Different membership levels can improve your association’s bottom line. The Membership Guys discuss whether it’s right for your organization in their latest podcast.

Sophia Conforti

Sophia Conforti is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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