I have a serious bias when it comes to the world of work. My friend and colleague Joe Gerstandt does a terrific job of helping us “see” the hidden biases we all have (yes, you have them too.) Some of them are not so hidden however. They are front and center for us, and candidly that is where they are going to stay whether we want them to or not.
So here’s one that I’ve put at the top of my list: making it safe for every employee in the company to feel safe coming to talk to me. About any topic.
Job Titles Are Scary
I’ve been fortunate ( and continue to be) to serve in senior leadership roles for several organizations. The downside of that role is that the darn job title gets in the way sometimes. Here’s what I’m talking about…
…employee wants to raise an issue or concern…starts to worry that raising that issue with a “VP” might make them look bad at best, or be career-limiting at worst…
The job title blocks getting to the real issue. That’s not good. But there is a clear solution. Can you guess who is responsible for executing that solution every day?
Job Titles Are Also Opportunities
We’ve all heard the phrase that “talk is cheap.” Well I disagree. I think words are powerful. I think words move people to action. I think words can make all the difference…
…words can do all these things when they are combined with action.
That fancy job title that gets people flustered opens the door for you to make it safe…literally…for your team members to come to you with any issue.
It’s not easy. You have to start fresh every day. Forget that you built a strong rapport with the team last month, last week, or even yesterday.
Make it safe again today. Never stop reinforcing that you are available and will not over react, or for God’s sake punish them for stepping forward.
This may sound very simple to you…but when was the last time you intentionally thought about making your workplace safe for every employee to come forward.? I’m not talking about your peers, or those in “higher level roles.” I mean everyone.
How About You
I hear many leaders lament that they don’t know the “real story” of what is going on in their organizations. Well here’s a tip…when leaders make it safe for everyone to come forward and share the last 10% of the story (which is always where the real issues are hiding) the truth will come out. It is entirely up to you to make it happen.
Jay Kuhns is a human resources executive, leadership coach, speaker, consultant and is the author of Unstoppable Power, Leverage Energy, Risk and Relationships and Advance Your Leadership Career. He is a “Type A” leader who understands that human resources leadership is about high energy, creativity, strong personal connections and making changes that push organizations forward.