OSLO / LILLESTRØM (Nettavisen) Business Forum: What works are employees who feel psychologically safe enough to speak up when they have work-related topics. Perhaps they have a different point of view, bad news, or another question they need answered in order to perform at their best, Harvard professor Amy Edmondson tells Nettavisen at the conference.
Amy C. Edmondson is an American researcher in leadership, team formation, and organizational learning, and is currently Professor of Management at Harvard Business School. She is considered one of the world’s leading thinkers in the field of management.
This week she was in Oslo to talk to Norwegian managers about how to lead and create a culture where employees dare to raise uncomfortable topics with their boss. The star professor believes that most employees withhold useful information and are reluctant to say anything that could put them in a bad light.
It’s very natural and human, but it stands in the way of excellent results. It stands in the way of quality work and innovation. Edmondson believes that it sometimes leads to avoidable errors.
– Employees assume and exaggerate
What should you do if you are in a situation or feel in a situation where you have a boss that you cannot provide feedback to?
– There are two possibilities. In some cases, you have a toxic leader. This person does really crazy things that make it really hard to do and open up. In these cases, you will probably have to seek help from an ombudsman or a colleague, but then you need help to address this, Edmundson asserts.
This is still not what you think is the most common situation most people encounter.
Oftentimes you will make incorrect or exaggerated assumptions about the boss or manager. They tell themselves they can’t talk because the boss doesn’t like it. So the advice there, even if it feels a little uncomfortable and scary, is to do it anyway.
Edmondson believes the chance is greater than you think your ideas will be appreciated. The American professor also believes that it has to do with the way the message is delivered.
– when you say, «I’ve never done anything like that and I’d be grateful to you“,” So they say «Thanks, that’s how I think about it».
– or if you say «I spoke to a customer who was not satisfied with the product“,” Then you will probably get one «Thank you for providing this insight».
The point Edmondson would like to stress to employees is that you should not bring assumptions from life or from previous work into your current work situation,Especially ideas that your boss won’t hear from you.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Just tried. Take small steps and try a behavior that may be uncomfortable the first few times, but then you will notice that nothing bad happened. Then you can try again, she says.
Nettavisen also takes the opportunity to ask Edmondson about a controversial topic in the workplace, which is free seats.
I think we are in a period of too many trials. As long as we treat it as experimentation and exploration, it will be fine. If we treat something as the new rule – nonsense. The expert stresses that we do not know how it will all turn out.
– If we take «Fre-sitting»Seems like a good idea because it’s flexible. “hWhy should we have an office for you while you’re here one day a week?» But then it turns out that from a psychological perspective, people don’t do well with all the turmoil and uncertainty. We need something fairly predictable. We have to figure it out, and learn as it happens.
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