How to Inspire Employees to Speak Up and Choose to Lead
One of the perks as a resource speaker for training is the chance to meet people from different walks of life. I once had a discussion with a parenting coach about our children who where both starting at primary school at that time. I expressed my concern that my child was too timid to excel in school. Surprisingly, the parenting coach blamed me for not pushing my child to be more outspoken. Then I realized parenting is almost like managing a team. Since then, I started using the parenting analogy in my leadership training, teaching leaders to inspire employees.
As parents, we expect our children to respect boundaries. In a business setting, managers find it difficult to cultivate an open environment because employees are expected to be conservative and less aggressive when it comes to company policies and improvements.
Employees are bound to follow company culture, so they choose to be silent with what they think could contradict the present process, accept certain changes, and adjust to the culture to avoid issues or conflicts rather than go out there and speak up. They may also think giving opinions or suggesting changes may negatively affect their performance reviews.
However, companies shouldn’t see it that way. It’s time for management to inspire employees and give them the opportunity to speak up — with certain limitations, of course. As leaders, you can create conditions that could help people have the guts to speak up when it matters most – despite the gaps and barriers that encourage silence.
Here are some tactics you may use as a parent that you can also apply to your management style to inspire employees to step up and lead.
Create an Environment of Acceptance and Open-mindedness
If you’re the type of boss who gives the impression that you don’t listen to other people’s opinions and implies ultimate superiority, then that habit must go. This is a barrier that stops your employees from contributing to a possibly better workplace.
Studies about superior-subordinate communication are concerned with ensuring communication channels are open, information is communicated in a respectful way, and the superior-subordinate relationship is strengthened — all while achieving organizational goals.
Don’t Be the Terrible Boss. Set a Good Example
Bad bosses come with a checklist of problematic traits. The Society for Human Resource Management associates the following types of bosses with poor management skills:
- Expect employees to be available 24/7
- Obsessed with numbers but doesn’t provide direction
- Engages in office politics
By engaging in these behaviors, you make it difficult for employees to approach you or even share anything with you. Being an effective boss must comprise being approachable and easy to converse with.
To cultivate new leaders, you must lead by example. How you handle your people will set the standard for the rest of the team to follow.
Build a Good Foundation with Your Employees
It is very important that your people trust you not just as their boss, but also as their friend and confidante. Giving the appropriate feedback to each concern an employee shares is the best way to make your staff come to greater shared understanding. As a starting point, you communicate expectations, understandings and interpretations in some circumstances.
In this way, your employees feel their opinions are appreciated and taken into consideration, and will be acted upon if needed.
Push Them to Their Limits and Help Them Grow
Pushing your people to their limits could make them strive more for improvement and at the same time, make them feel like their bosses mold them to be the best with what they can bring to the table.
Provide training and seminars that can inspire employees to be the best in what they do. Let them know what talent and qualities you see in them. Then help them see how they can utilize these for career growth.
If something doesn’t seem right, provide criticisms constructively. In this way, your employees could get out of their comfort zones and aspire to do better and strive harder.
Don’t Impose Fear
As the famous Johnny English tagline says, “He knows no fear. He knows no danger.” Employees sense if you show fear.
If you don’t want your employees to be afraid of the many possibilities out there for them, don’t lead in fear. Show bravery and courage, especially in decision-making. This could ignite positive effects, attract positive and more independent decisions and judgments.
Don’t wait for your employees to feel unhappy in the workplace. Simply put, if your people can’t communicate openly with you, there’s no way you could know what’s on their minds.
Creating reciprocal and two-way communication is the key to any harmonious relationship, whether it’s a parent-child or manager-employee relationship. Remember you don’t only work for the benefit of profit and sales. Instead, focus on the deeper essence of providing growth and improvement to inspire employees to become great leaders.