Listen so they will speak up

The problem with most speak-up initiatives is that they are rarely coupled with an initiative to show managers how they can listen better and take actions that inspire trust.

How well a manager listens to an employee who is reporting wrongdoing will determine how likely this employee is to speak up again in the future. Here are a few tips for managers:

  • Actively engage with your employees by asking follow-up questions and gather as much information as possible. This shows that you are taking your employee’s concerns seriously and are committed to understanding the situation fully.
  • Ensure that the employee’s report is kept as confidential as possible. Only share with those who have a need to know. This will help the employee feel more comfortable reporting the misconduct and will also reduce the likelihood of retaliation.
  • Be as transparent as possible about the steps you are taking in response to the employee’s report. This includes communicating with the employee about the status of the investigation and any actions taken as a result of the report (subject to privacy rules and common decency).
  • Share with the employee your understanding that reporting misconduct can be a difficult and stressful process. This can be done by actively listening to the employee and acknowledging their feelings.
  • Follow-up with the employee after the investigation to ensure that the employee feels heard and respected, and to check if there is anything else the employee needs.

The better we listen, the more they will speak up.

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