Asking questions of your employees is a tried and true way of engaging employee enthusiasm – not to mention getting valuable ideas and suggestions on improving productivity and performance from those in the trenches.
However, if your employees’ responses aren’t respected, appreciated and valued – or worse, employees feel that they’ve been punished or dealt with unfairly as a result of giving their honest opinion – then employees won’t give you their truth, all you’ll get are useless platitudes.
This is hurtful both to your business and to your employees.
Joseph Grenny, business performance consultant, discusses how a CEO successfully overcame the lack of safety felt by his employees when it came to voicing their concerns and suggestions. One of those ways was to praise publicly: “He [the CEO] created a safe forum for people to raise questions—then spoke publicly about those who asked them in laudatory ways… He was careful to sympathize with the questioners and to validate their concerns. The workforce took note— seeing evidence that disagreement would no longer be treated as insubordination. Questions could be asked anonymously or not, and over time more and more of the questioners identified themselves — which gave Phil [the CEO] a chance to commend them in the newsletter for their candor. Public praise is more about influencing those who hear it than those who receive it.”
Make it safe for employees to speak up, and openly express your appreciation for your employees’ contribution. You’ll win every time.