How to Raise Problems at Work (And Not Get Penalized) - Transcend Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

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March 6, 2020

How to Raise Problems at Work (And Not Get Penalized)

How to Raise Problems at Work (And Not Get Penalized)

Building a truly open and honest culture in the workplace means empowering every single employee to raise issues that they see but might be uncomfortable to talk about.

That may mean something as simple as a colleague regularly being late to meetings or missing them altogether. Or it may be something more serious, like a flawed assumption that could derail an important project and have costly consequences.

People who have the confidence and support to talk about problems they notice are vital for innovation, growth and success. But many employees are afraid of retribution or being viewed as a snitch or whistleblower, so they don’t speak up.

Failure to create a safe culture where people can talk about difficult subjects or address problems head on can result in flawed products, expensive recalls, reputational damage, and loss of talent as frustrated employees quit.

Here’s how to create a culture of open and honest communication, and how to support an employee who speaks up about a problem:

  • Thank them for having the courage to say something in the first place
  • Stay focused on the underlying problem, and don’t get mad at the messenger
  • Listen to what they say, ask questions and clarify to make sure you understand, and take careful notes
  • Investigate and explore whether their concerns are true
  • Inform key stakeholders and decision-makers (when necessary)
  • For serious problems, be prepared to manage a crisis and develop an immediate plan of action to fix the issue
  • Make time for a retrospective after the fact, to study what went wrong and how to prevent such mistakes in the future

Good workplace design can support open communication.

For example, glass doors and walls that allow employees to see whether their manager is on the phone or in a meeting can encourage them to have an impromptu conversation or ask a question.

Creating more private spaces for one-on-one conversations also encourages employees to have more conversations with their bosses, including difficult conversations about problems they have noticed. Semi-private booths and nooks give employees space for having discrete conversations with colleagues when they are debating whether to speak up about an issue they’re wrestling with.

All of these design features are also essential for supporting a wide range of work styles and workspace preferences so employees feel confident and can do their best work.

Let’s get started on creating a workspace your employees love. You can reach us here.

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