Leaders often try to create an open culture, where people feel comfortable speaking up and challenging one another, by saying they’re listening. But you can go further to demonstrate that your company is a safe place for people to raise issues.
+ Praise publicly. Create a safe forum for people to raise questions and concerns, and then laud those who ask them. Public acknowledgment is more about influencing those who hear it than those who receive it.
+ Model behavior. You can show that it is safe to speak up by saying the hard things yourself. Raise difficult issues to show they’re not taboo and encourage people to contribute to the conversation.
+ Teach communication skills. Don’t just encourage openness. Teach people how to have difficult conversations that involve diffusing tensions, speaking candidly without provoking resistance and quickly building rapport. These new skills will leave people more confident in speaking up.
(Adapted from “4 Ways Leaders Can Create a Candid Culture” by Joseph Grenny.)