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3 Ways to Foster a Culture of Courage

How many potentially great ideas have you kept to yourself over the course of your career so far? Chances are, if you were to tally the unexpressed ideas from everyone in your team, department or organization, the total would be staggering.

But no matter the number, the result is always the same: Ideas of potential value are often not heard by the people (including organizational leaders) who might benefit from them.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way, as David Dye and Karin Hurt contend in their book Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates. We spoke with them in the latest HR Break Room®.

Figure out what’s holding you back

Different people have different reasons for not speaking up at work.

Some assume their contributions won’t be seriously considered. (These employees might also think, “Even if my idea is taken seriously, will anything actually be done in response?”)

Others are afraid that going out on a conceptual limb will result in undue criticism or rejection, perhaps as a result of some negative experience from the past.

Another reason is so obvious as to be easily overlooked: Employees with constructive input simply aren’t being asked to share it in the first place.

Remember, too, the various reasons for remaining silent might exert an even more powerful force when they exist in combination.

Develop communication strategies

Once you have a better idea about why employees aren’t sharing what’s on their minds, the path to more open communication becomes clear.

For starters, one of the best things supervisors and other leaders can do is lead by example. This might take the form of not only sharing more ideas with the team, but also asking honest (even painfully honest) questions.

“We call it a ‘courageous culture’ because getting there requires leadership courage, leadership vulnerability, the willingness to go first,” Dye said in the podcast.

The results of an honest conversation may not always be directly useful to the organization. But for purposes of effecting a change in culture, it is the willingness to have the conversation that counts.

Harness the power of technology

When employees are engaged in their roles, the potential for meaningful communication can only increase. Want to boost employee engagement? Make sure you have the right HR tech at your disposal.

Consider the advantages of a cutting-edge digital learning platform, for example. Paycom Learning’s Video Content Creator enables supervisors to share brief microlearnings in easily digestible video form, while Performance Evidence allows employees to demonstrate their mastery of key concepts with the same level of app-based convenience — anytime, from anywhere.

In addition to technology, organizations can empower their employees through initiatives designed to spark open dialogue on topics like diversity and inclusion. As Paycom learned through its Better Conversations series in 2020, the results are well worth the effort.

Want to hear more about Dye and Hurt’s vision of a courageous company culture? Tune into episode 89 of HR Break Room for engagement-boosting insights you won’t want to miss!