I believe work should be a safe and encouraging place. As adults we spend the majority of our time in the workplace and I feel workplaces should be a source of good in the world by creating a safe place for personal development and actually encourage personal development as this leads to better companies, higher profits, better products, healthier employees and so on. However that often isn't the case and Michael Schneider sums this up in his new opinion piece in Inc.com titled Insecurity Keeps Most Employees Quiet During Team Meetings.
Mr. Schneider talks about how the lack of lack psychological safety, group think, and a push for conformity keeps people quite during meetings. His best line is people "will internalize conflicting ideas to ensure they don't ruffle any feathers or stand out." Standing out at work isn't safe! Right? And yet innovation, performance, success only happens when we strive and stand out.Companies are preventing their own success when they are not actively creating cultures that are free of group think.
To create and sustain a culture shift requires everyone in management from the highest level down to be on board.
It starts with mangers realizing that leadership/management isn't about having people follow your ideas. It about asking questions and getting everyone involved and facilitating their involvement.
No one what's to be a micro manger. Right? Its exhausting to have to "think" for everyone on your team and tell them all what to do all the time. Not only is it exhausting for the manger its also very stressful on the subordinate. Its just an overall toxic relationship and situation. When mangers learn that their job is to create an environment where others can step up and thrive things will improve for everyone. Including customers!
Mr. Schneider's has some good suggestions if you are interested in this type of stuff. The one thing I will add is that whenever we are dealing with groups which are 3 or more people keep the following terms in mind: Forming, Norming, Storming and Preforming.
Forming is when a group comes together and everytime someone leaves or someone joins a group it is a new group and goes back to the forming stage.
Norming is when a group gets into a rhythm and habits of how it operates. Most groups reach this stage and stay here. Its an OK place to be.
Storming is critical. This is when a group learns that it can handle upset and conflict and disagreement and yet still function together. This is where a group can talk about behaviour of team members. Where members can disagree with management. When a group can fight but then hug it out you have something special. Its like a broken bone. I have heard that if you break a bone when it mends it is stronger. Storming is like that. However many people fear conflict. Especially mangers who might see conflict as an indication they are a bad manger they will work to suppress and prevent any storming. But storming is critical to success. It's impossible to agree with someone all the time. Its also impossible to always suppress your upset with someone. In healthy relationships we can tell people when we are upset. They listen and respond and we work it out and move on. That's storming. If a manager suppresses storming then issues never get resolved.
Performing is what every company wants for every team! And we get to performing by moving through storming. When you have team members that are free to counter each other. Share new ideas. Challenge management. Go back to the drawing board. Question each other. Share freely with no fear of reprisal then the magic starts to happen.
The next time you are leading a meeting and no one is saying anything ask yourself what you can be doing to help make this environment safer for everyone.
I love information. I love to read articles and to learn more. On this blog I will be sharing articles I find insightful and helpful with regards to stress, anxiety, loneliness and other related feelings. Occasionally I might even right an article myself. I hope you find these posts helpful.