Voicing Ideas and Concerns
Contributed by staff writer Amanda Fraraccio
This month, we turn our attention to voicing ideas and concerns in the workplace. Feedback from front-line team members is vital to the success of an organization. Providing opinions and ideas in a professional manner can not only bring recognition to an individual team member but can also shape the future of an organization. Many people have opinions about their workplaces but never voice them for fear of reprisal. This tendency can keep potentially valuable information from those who make decisions (Lava, 2018).
As a team member, the successful delivery of opinions and ideas can rest heavily on how they are presented. If the organization is a traditional hierarchy, it may be best to present ideas through established channels, such as surveys or suggestion boxes. If the organization has a more open culture, then connecting directly with peers or leaders can be beneficial (Lava, 2018).
Consider timing when presenting concerns. For example, blurting out problems in the middle of a staff meeting without thinking things through is typically not the best approach. Instead, schedule time with team leaders to meet one on one, setting the stage for a more productive discussion (DeMers, 2015). Think through how to be specific and be prepared to list examples rather than make general statements. When the focus is on facts, and opinions are stated as opinions, there will likely be a less defensive response. Having solutions prepared can show team leaders you are not using their time to simply air grievances. Instead, it displays investment in the success of the organization. It can also increase the likelihood that ideas will be considered and implemented (DeMers, 2015).
Leaders who know how to receive feedback and have avenues for implementing ideas is as important as team members knowing how to voice concerns (Sessoms, 2018). An organization with leaders who are receptive to opinions tend to have more engaged and productive teams. Open dialogue can be encouraged by listening attentively and thanking team members for their thoughts, even if they disagree (Lava, 2018).
Having a formal, confidential process to submit feedback can be beneficial. Acknowledgment of the concern and follow up with the team member are important. It can also be helpful to have incentives in place such as companywide recognition of team members whose ideas were implemented. Interacting with employees outside the workplace, at a company-sponsored event, can promote relationship building and increase a team member’s comfort level in providing feedback. Sometimes, even in the most open environments, it may be necessary to directly solicit feedback through periodic anonymous surveys (Sessoms, 2018).
Open, honest dialogue, between team members and leaders, can often increase respect and deepen relationships (Lava, 2018). Progress is made when problems are addressed. When the focus is on relationship building and finding solutions, and feedback is shared honestly and calmly, everyone wins. (DeMers, 2015)
DeMers, J. (2015, June 24). Inc.com/jayson-demers. Retrieved from Inc.com: https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/how-to-voice-concerns-without-seeming-negative.html
Lava, S. (2018). Workplace Ettiquette. Retrieved from Chron.com: https://work.chron.com/voicing-opinion-workplace-4397.html
Sessoms, G. (2018). https://smallbusiness.chron.com. Retrieved from chron.com: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/employees-voice-opinions-16072.html