If Your Employees Aren’t Speaking Up, Blame Company Culture by Hemant Kakkar & Subra Tangirala

Companies benefit when employees speak up. When employees feel comfortable candidly voicing their opinions, suggestions, or concerns, organizations become better at handling threats as well as opportunities.

But employees often remain silent with their opinions, concerns or ideas. There are generally two viewpoints on why: One is the personality perspective, which suggests that these employees inherently lack the disposition to stand up and speak out about critical issues, that they might be too introverted or shy to effectively articulate their views to the team. This perspective gives rise to solutions such as hiring employees who have proactive dispositions and are more inclined to speak truth to power.

By contrast, the situational perspective argues that employees fail to speak up because they feel their work environment is not conducive for it. They might fear suffering significant social costs by challenging their bosses. This perspective leads to solutions focused on how managers can create the right social norms that encourage employees to voice concerns without fear of sanctions.

These two perspectives aren’t mutually exclusive, but we wanted to test which one matters more: If personality is the primary predictor of speaking up, situational factors shouldn’t matter as much. This means that employees who are inherently disposed to speak up will be the ones who more frequently do so. By contrast, if the situation or environment is the primary driver of speaking up, then employee personality should be less important – employees would speak up, irrespective of their underlying dispositions, when the work environment encourages speaking up, and they would stay silent when the environment doesn’t.

Read the full article @ Harvard Business Review

Image: Speak Up Global

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