Does your organisation actively promote open expression? Listening, acknowledging and acting on your employees’ opinions can instil autonomy, a sense of team belonging and engagement. It goes without saying – openness and honesty are key pillars of any team. To see how your company is faring, we’ve put together a quick-fire Freedom of Opinions audit.
Can every team member make suggestions?
Opinions count for nothing if voices aren’t heard. Do you have regular channels for communication such as weekly team talks? When people make positive suggestions or constructive criticism that is actionable, celebrate this. Have a visible plan that sets out who has ownership for each idea. It’s incredibly motivating to see your suggestions taken forward. This provides an avenue for more introverted employees to speak up, but is also helps to include more private channels, like a dedicated email inbox for employee suggestions.
Is it easy to share opinions with managers?
Feeling that your manager genuinely respects and listens to your opinions is essential for employee engagement. Formal reviews shouldn’t be the sole opportunity for this two-way feedback. Make sure managers have at least one ‘open door’ period each week; this creates a culture of communicating work-related suggestions and concerns in a face-to-face environment.
Are you prepared for challenging opinions?
Freedom of Opinions means that sometimes people may hear something they wish they hadn’t, or colleagues may overstep boundaries. There’s a fine line between freedom of expression and offensive comments, so have a clear policy stating that those who feel offended can discuss the remarks in confidence and it will be taken seriously. And, conversely, while employees shouldn’t be punished for voicing challenging opinions (unless they stray into offensive territory), be prepared to speak to your staff about how to state their case in a constructive manner.
Is your office a tolerant environment?
Creating a culture that celebrates Freedom of Opinions starts with something as simple as empowering every new employee to speak up, and encouraging it yourself by expressing thoughts in the office. You can also bring it out in your recruitment practices to reach out to a broader range of backgrounds.
Colleagues who feel that they can safely discuss their opinions will be the first to propose innovative ideas, debate different processes and tackle issues with a solutions-focused mind. Encouraging Freedom of Opinions in your workplace is a challenge, but one well worth taking.
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