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Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely?

Let your employees voice their concerns and you will retain them. You may agree with them; disagree with them; agree to disagree with them; or disagree to agree with them, but you cannot let them voice their views if your eyes are on Mars. An HBR article examines the fear and futility of open door policy and suggests ways of creating more open culture.

hances are, your employees are withholding valuable intelligence from you. Maybe it’s about a project that’s gone off track or a manager who’s behaving badly. Or maybe they’re not sharing their thoughts on ways the business could grow its sales or improve operations. No matter how open you are as a manager, our research shows, many of your people are more likely to keep mum than to question initiatives or suggest new ideas at work.

This is true even if, like most leaders, you believe you have an open-door policy. (In our years of studying employee “voice” and advising organizations, we’ve never heard anyone say, “I have a closed-door policy.”) Think about it: How often do employees come to you, on your turf, to tell you the unvarnished truth simply because you’ve encouraged them to do so? The reality is, they worry—rightly or not—that you’ll take their comments personally, or that they’ll come across as disrespectful know-it-alls.

Leaders use a variety of tools to get people to speak up, like “climate” surveys and all-staff feedback sessions. Many of these efforts focus on improving communication up and down the hierarchy.

Read the full article…

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