“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” —Stephen Covey
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Why Help Employees Find Their Voice?
Employees want you, as a leader, to listen to what they have to say, to ask for their opinion, to not be confrontational, and to show respect and value for them as individuals and for their ideas. No one person has all the answers, not even you. When employees find their voice, you have access to a whole new set of ideas and answers. You have had the opportunity to find your voice, now help your employees find theirs. So, how can you help?
Ken Robinson said, “The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.” You must emphasize the importance of bringing a variety of ideas to the table. Let employees know that you value their thoughts and ideas. Encourage them to share; to voice their thoughts on both problems and solutions. These things cannot be done as isolated incidents; the value of EVERYONE sharing ideas must be woven into the very culture of the organization. Employees deserve the opportunity to share their ideas, to be engaged in their work, to be noticed in a positive way, and to contribute more value to the organization. It’s your responsibility, as a leader, to create a culture where employees can have a voice and thrive.
Georges St-Pierre explained, “For me, personally, when I’m afraid of something – when you’re afraid of something, normally you try to go away, you try to avoid it. Instead of avoiding it, to overcome your fear, I believe you need to embrace it.” As a leader, you need to set the example; show employees that you aren’t afraid to have the tough conversations, to be challenged or questioned, or to listen to things you don’t want to hear. Then encourage, instead of stifle, their voice. Help them to see that they can speak up without fear of confrontation or repercussions. Show them that you are there to listen without judgment or intimidation. Help them to overcome their fear so they can find their voice.
Max Carver tells us, “Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.” When we find common ground, we can connect with others on a deeper level and we are able to empathize and understand where they are coming from. This allows us to feel that we are part of a community. Being part of a community enhances our willingness to communicate, collaborate, and support each other. As a leader, you must help create a sense of community where employees know they are part of something bigger than themselves and where they feel safe to share thoughts and ideas.
Give Employees a Voice
According to Margaret Heffernan, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, and debate.” If you want to improve employee satisfaction and the organization’s ability to innovate, give employees a voice. Encourage them to share ideas, help them overcome fear, and create a sense of community. When employees start sharing their thoughts and ideas, you may experience conflict, argument, and debate; you will also experience the building of relationships and the co-creation of great ideas.
© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.