Four essentials for an open business culture

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Listening is not enough – you need to actively encourage your employees to contribute, with these simple exercises
In an industry full of big characters, it can be intimidating for quieter members to contribute. But that doesn’t mean they have nothing to say.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, business social scientist Joseph Grenny explains how you, as a leader, can help your staff reach that potential.

1. Praise publicly
You need to show that disagreement will not be treated as subordination. Grenny cites an example where an executive personally answered employees’ questions in a weekly newsletter, but in a small office praise could be given vocally.

2. Prime the pump
Some criticisms of particularly sensitive topics – i.e. your new lead generation plan – can be extremely difficult for employees to begin. If you’re serious about getting feedback, you need to ask the question:  ‘what do you think of …?’ or ‘Is there anything about … that’s frustrating you?’

3. Lead by teaching
You can teach openness, to an extent. There are techniques to make it easier to articulate strong emotions, how to avoid resistance, how to build rapport etc. If you are personally involved in these sessions it will show your commitment and help employees take them seriously.

4. Sacrifice your ego
Enough giving advice – you need to really seek advice from employees. That means admitting that your present management style could be improved, with specific questions. Standing in front of the whole office and saying this is undoubtedly a challenge, but the payoff can be substantial.
Read Joseph Grenny’s original article here.

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