Speaking Up for culture


Speaking up to managers can be a daunting task, but it is an essential skill for any employee. Whether you need to address a difficult situation, provide feedback, or advocate for yourself, the ability to communicate effectively with your manager is critical to your success in the workplace. Speaking up can also help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues and advance your career. However, many people find it challenging to assert themselves in a professional setting, especially when dealing with authority figures. In this guide, we will explore strategies for speaking up to managers in a constructive, respectful manner that promotes positive outcomes for all parties involved

According to Edmondson, psychological safety is an important predictor of team performance and innovation. Teams with high levels of psychological safety are more likely to collaborate effectively, share information, and deliver safer outcomes especially in healthcare environments. In contrast, teams with low levels of psychological safety are more likely to experience conflict, withholding information, and decreased creativity. Psychological safety is the ability to speak up without fear of retribution - this requires the leadership and team members to be open and willing to foster an environment of safety for speaking up about difficult issues. 

If your manager has spoken to you unfairly in front of others at work, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. Here are some steps you can take to address the situation:

  1. Take a deep breath and stay calm: It can be very upsetting to be spoken to unfairly, especially by your manager. However, it is important to try to remain calm and composed in the moment.

  2. Pull your manager aside privately: After the incident, ask to speak with your manager privately. Explain that you were hurt by the way you were spoken to in front of others, and that it was unprofessional.

  3. Provide specific examples: Provide your manager with specific examples of what was said and how it made you feel. Be factual and avoid emotional language.

  4. Ask for an explanation: Ask your manager why they spoke to you in that way. It is possible that there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding that can be cleared up by discussing the issue calmly.

  5. Be open to feedback: Your manager may have feedback for you about the situation that contributed to their response. Listen carefully and try to understand their perspective.

  6. Work towards a solution: Work together with your manager to find a solution that addresses the issue and prevents similar incidents from happening in the future.

  7. Consider seeking outside help: If the issue cannot be resolved through discussion with your manager, consider speaking to HR or seeking the advice of a trusted colleague or mentor.

It is important to remember that being spoken to unfairly by a manager is not acceptable behaviour, and it is important to address the situation in a professional and respectful manner. By calmly discussing the issue with your manager, you can work together to find a solution and improve your working relationship.

If you have been able to address the issue at the time of the event, you can still address it at a later date. Here are some strategies you can use to communicate effectively with your manager in a constructive, respectful manner:

  1. Plan what you want to say: Before speaking to your manager, take some time to organize your thoughts and plan what you want to say. Write down the key points you want to make and practice delivering them in a clear, concise manner. Speaking to an independent confidential person such as an EAP counsellor first to help plan what you will say, even role play and practice the interaction, and put your own wellbeing first, with strategies for self care before and after the interaction. 

  2. Choose the right time and place: It is important to choose a time and place that is appropriate for the conversation. Pick a time when your manager is not too busy or distracted, and find a private space where you can talk without interruptions.

  3. Use “I” statements: When speaking to your manager, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This will help you communicate your thoughts and feelings without sounding accusatory. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me,” say “I feel like my opinions aren’t being heard.”

  4. Be specific: When providing feedback or addressing an issue, be specific and provide examples of what you are referring to. This will help your manager understand the situation and take appropriate action.

  5. Listen actively: Listening is a crucial part of effective communication. Be sure to actively listen to your manager’s response and ask questions to clarify anything that is unclear.

  6. Be open to feedback: Your manager may have a different perspective on the situation, so be open to their feedback and try to understand their point of view. This can help you find a solution that works for everyone.

  7. Follow up: After the conversation, follow up with your manager to ensure that any action items have been completed and to express your appreciation for their time and attention.

Speaking up to managers can be a challenging but rewarding process. A foundation of psychological safety culture will only be developed if all team members are willing to approach it as a growth and development exercise rather than a personal attack. By planning your approach, choosing the right time and place, using “I” statements, being specific, actively listening, being open to feedback, and following up, you can communicate effectively with your manager and promote positive outcomes for all parties involved.


Written by chnnl Team

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