According to a study by training company VitalSmarts, less than 1% of employees feel ‘extremely confident’ when speaking up to address concerns in the workplace.
72% do not speak up when they feel a colleague is failing to deliver on their work.
68% do not report cases of disrespect.
57% fail to challenge peers who do not follow critical workplace processes.
Instead of engaging in conversation, they go to great and costly lengths to avoid any kind of conflict.
Because they’re scared. Because employees, by default, act to protect their employment status as a priority.
Sadly, it’s an understandable decision grounded in precedence. You only need to look to Hollywood, and the developing stories surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein to realise what great and tragic lengths people will go to in order to protect their careers.
But it’s time to put our foot down. It’s time, as members of The 8 Percent responsible for founding a positive culture within a successful business, to make sure the people we employ feel supported when they choose to speak openly and honestly.
Today, doing so is seen as a courageous choice. Tomorrow, it can be the only choice. But only if we work to make it happen.
Jack Welch is the former CEO of General Electric. Under his leadership, the company’s value grew an astounding 4000%. He puts it all down to promoting and rewarding a culture of honesty.
“In a bureaucracy, people are afraid to speak out. This type of environment slows you down, and it doesn’t improve the workplace”, Welch explains in his hour-long interview at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
By demonstrably supporting and challenging employees, the company created a culture of “winning”, which Welch says inspires workers to embody the value that a successful business should represent.
Candor works both ways though, and GE’s 20-70-10 system is a perfect example of how to do so on a large scale.
“You should take the top 20 percent of your employees and make them feel loved”, Welch advises. “Take the middle 70 percent and tell them what they need to do to get into the top 20 percent.”
The bottom 10% are managed out progressively throughout the year, in order to decrease conflict and ensure the right culture is maintained.
By becoming experts at such a process, Welch says such companies shape values not just relevant within their walls, but throughout society. And with the top levels of leadership seemingly in disarray throughout the world right now, that’s exactly what we need.