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CORPORATE CULTURE: How to encourage employees to speak freely about problems and ideas

It is not enough for managers to tell employees that they have an “open door policy.”  It is not enough to set up mechanisms that rely on anonymity to solicit opinion or reporting of problems.  The authors discuss aspects of the “fear factor” and the “futility factor” that tend to shut down communication from subordinates to managers about problems and new ideas for improvement.  Instead, it is suggested that managers can create a more vocal corporate culture by:

  • Asking for frequent feedback in a face-to-face setting and informally
  • Establishing transparent feedback processes
  • Encouraging new hires to contribute ideas based on their previous experience
  • Downplaying power cues
  • Setting an example in communicating with their own managers
  • Closing the loop

Source: Detert, J.R., and Burris, E.R. (2016, Jan.-Feb.). Can your employees really speak freely? Harvard Business Review, 94(1/2), 81-87.  https://hbr.org/2016/01/can-your-employees-really-speak-freely  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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