Picture yourself in a meeting with high-powered officials.
A room filled with people from different departments, each with their ideas about the company’s direction: the group leader presents a proposal and then requests feedback.
The first person speaks up, but the managers prefer to avoid the idea.
Another person speaks up but is interrupted halfway through.
And then another one puts their arm up to make a point but changes their mind and takes it down again.
Finally, the group leader looks around expectantly and requests another comment, but the entire room has fallen silent.
Silence is an insidious thing. It can spread through an organisation like a virus, infecting everyone. Silence makes people think and question, and doubt can start.
Suddenly, an organisation finds itself with no new ideas, little engagement, and slow innovation.
Something must be done to encourage and foster a new culture where employees feel psychologically safe enough to speak up. We need to unmute the workforce.
On The HR L&D Podcast, Global Communication Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Trainer and Author Heather Hansen talked to Nick Day, CEO at JGA Recruitment, about how business leaders can foster unmuted communication cultures where every voice is heard, resulting in greater inclusion, innovation and efficiency across remote and global teams.
So, how do you foster an unmuted communication culture in your organisation?
The culture at a workplace is just like the atmosphere. It can be either pleasant or unpleasant.
The most successful organisations have a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up if they have ideas or solutions to problems.
This uplifting, unmuted workplace environment makes it easier for people to bring ideas to the table. As a result, people feel extremely comfortable making suggestions, asking questions, and respectfully disagreeing with their managers without fear of incrimination or retribution.
In a speak-up culture, disagreements don’t turn into fights but instead lead to more openness and trust between employees and management. Everyone believes they can provide feedback without fear. As a result, a muted culture evolves into an unmuted culture of innovation and ideas.
To help you solve the problem of a “muted culture,” here are 6 top ways you can unleash the potential of your members and make them proactive inside the workplace.
1.) Embrace Cultural change to create a culture of openness and transparency.
Starting at the top is essential when fostering a “speak up” culture in your company. Leaders must look at this as a training gap to be plugged; instead, broader cultural change is required to help create a culture of openness and transparency that encourages ideas and innovation and fosters an environment of inclusion.
HR needs to play a strategic role in this process by fostering workplace environments that encourage its employees to feel empowered to speak up to drive innovation in the workplace.
It’s not just about having skills; it’s about creating a workplace where people feel safe speaking up when they have problems, concerns, or ideas.
The first step is ensuring you’re creating an unmuted environment where people feel comfortable speaking up when they have concerns. It may appear obvious but cultivating such an open environment necessitates skills in listening so that leaders understand how to hear what others have to say actively.
It means being willing to set aside preconceived notions and genuinely listening to consider other people’s thoughts. It also means avoiding shaming or blaming anyone who speaks up when there is a problem or concern.
2.) Facilitated discussion with top leaders
No matter your title or position, you can help to create a more vocal workplace. However, it may involve working with senior leaders to help you foster a new culture where people feel psychologically safe about speaking their minds.
It also involves being proactive in setting the tone and getting buy-in from the top. Begin by having a dialogue with your C-Suite in your organisation to discover what an “unmuted” workplace looks like for them.
It’s also helpful to gauge everyone’s comfort level with being more vocal—what are their fears, concerns, or hesitations? Having these discussions allows everyone to understand each other better, which will help them work together towards mutually beneficial goals.
3.) Run social campaigns to eliminate hesitations.
You need to help them press the unmute button.
Running social campaigns throughout the company can help.
Start conducting webinars and discussion groups that can help build confidence and help employees feel comfortable about speaking up and developing ideas.
4.) Social network analysis
Social network analysis is a type of data analysis that uses social networking data to find out where the connections are, who communicates with whom, and who is left out of the discussion.
You can identify your company’s true advocates with big data and computing.
Keep a record of who is open to expressing ideas and who needs a little push. Tracking these tiny details helps you find the right person and leverage their potential.
5.) Build agile methodologies
In addition to having a policy that encourages employees to speak up, you also need a structure that can handle their feedback.
Agile methodologies are perfect for this purpose because they encourage constant communication and collaboration between all levels of the organisation.
By breaking down walls and creating transparent, two-way communication channels, agile methodologies will encourage employees at all levels of the company to bring their ideas forward and voice their concerns.
6.) Collective meetups
Having space and time for ideas to flow freely is the final step in fostering an idea-generating, unmuted culture. Giving the team the time and space to share their ideas openly is essential.
You can also suggest or facilitate workshops on creative thinking and brainstorming, making it easier for team members to develop new ideas.
This is where regular team meetings become helpful because they allow team members to share their new ideas and get feedback from their peers. These meetings also help set objectives, identify areas for improvement, and provide a safe forum for celebrating successes.
Create an empowered environment to drive maximum innovation and success.
If employees view their manager as someone who values and listens to employees who speak up and offer new ideas, then other employees are more likely to do the same. On the other hand, if employees sense that their manager is more concerned with keeping as they are, if they feel their manager will be resistant change and to new ways of doing things then they may remain hesitate about speaking up.
However, by empowering voices, employees in your business can begin to unmute themselves to contribute to conversations that matter proactively.
Through conscious, confident, and connected communication, organisations can leverage the power of collective potential to solve the most complex organisational challenges.
When companies create a culture of openness and transparency, employees feel empowered to share their ideas and come up with solutions to problems they see at work.
Who knows, maybe in your new unmuted culture, the next idea or solution that an employee brings to the table could be the one that totally and positively transforms your business for the better.
Want to stay up to date with the latest HR news?