Article: Don't hold back: The art of speaking up at work

Life @ Work

Don't hold back: The art of speaking up at work

Speak up but only to the right person. Here are a few tips for sharing ideas in the workplace.
Don't hold back: The art of speaking up at work

We've all been there – you have a great idea to improve your workplace, but who should you talk to? According to research from Texas McCombs, it's not just about speaking up, but also about speaking to the right person.

Ethan Burris, a professor of management, found that two key characteristics of the listener can make a difference in the success of your suggestion: hierarchy and competence. Speaking to someone with authority and resources to make changes can lead to positive outcomes for both the employee and the business.

Burris advises employees to consider the following:

1) Speak upward: Approach managers who have the authority and resources to address the issue. Research showed that speaking more frequently to bosses led to a 12%-15% increase in sales performance.

2) Avoid speaking sideways: Talking to peers who have no more power than you do may not lead to effective change. In fact, speaking sideways was associated with a 10% decrease in sales performance.

3) Choose competent peers: If you must speak to peers, target those who are knowledgeable and influential to help get your ideas carried out.

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"Employees should think critically about who they direct their voice to when they have an idea for change," says Burris. "Both the amount of authority a person has to drive change and their competence give a greater likelihood of implementing the ideas employees raise."

So, next time you have a brilliant idea, make sure you're speaking up to the right person – it could make all the difference in the success of your suggestion and your performance at work.

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Topics: Life @ Work, Culture, Employee Engagement

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