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I have witnessed this phenomenon more than once during both my corporate career and as a consultant. Team meetings are conducted without employee input. Even when prompted with “Does anyone have questions are comments, employees are reluctant to speak up. The one sign that employees are either afraid of what may happen should they speak up or just don’t care is Silence. This is a sound (or lack thereof) in my opinion, any company or organization should strive to keep far, far away. Silence is not good for your customers nor is it good for your company. Here are a few things that may be contributing to employees’ choice to remain silent.
Organizational Culture – Probably the #1 reason that employees tend to exercise silence in the workplace is due to the culture of the organization. What behaviors do members of management model to their subordinates? Do these behaviors encourage employees to be more open? Are these behaviors conducive to creating a long term positive work environment? Are employees treated with respect when voicing their opinion about the work environment? Should the answer be no to either of these questions, employee silence will inevitably show up in the workplace. Leaders must strive to set the pace in any organization. Management must make sure that they are both approachable and sincere when interacting with their subordinates.
Non-Inclusion of Employees in Decision Making – Employees often have the answers to issues that if utilized, more than likely will result in both a better experience for themselves and customers. When recommendations for change go without acknowledgement or management exhibits a lack of interest, employees eventually shut down. This is another form of silence that should never exist within an organization. Proactively seek out employee input and implement recommendations that make sense. This gives an instant boost to employee morale. Whether they are production or front line employees, their ideas come from a “I do this everyday.” perspective, which should be respected and not taken for granted.
Non-Communication Across Departments – As a consultant, I often run across instances of non-communication across departments within companies. I usually ask both managers and employees why is this the case. “It’s so busy here that we don’t have time to check with them before we do…… is one answer that I hear on a regular basis. When this is the case, the next thing that I usually see is everyone with their “head down” working – just trying to make it through the day. Cross-functional communication must be a priority in order to create the best possible customer and employee experience.
Is employee silence a component of your company’s culture? Take an honest look at what might be contributing to this scenario. Your customers are directly impacted by the silence within your company. Remember – Silence is not golden in customer service.