Have a Voice: How to Be Heard and Seen on Your Team
July 28, 2020
It can be difficult to be heard at work in the best of times. During this highly disruptive time, it’s even more of a challenge. The chaos of the past four months, including the transition to remote work, has created additional barriers to open communications and your ability to be seen and heard on your team.
Your voice defines the value you bring to your organization. How you express your opinions at work (or not) is a reflection of what you represent as a team member, leader, and individual professional. If you aren’t able to consistently communicate what’s really on your mind, your identity at work is inauthentic.
Now more than ever, we need transparent, candid communication in the workplace, but it’s difficult when people don’t have the skills or supportive corporate culture to speak up. It’s even more important if what you want to communicate is an unpopular opinion that is likely to be met with opposition.
It’s not always easy to speak up — we get it. If you feel that your voice is not being heard on your team or by your leader, here are some tips to help:
- Relevance: Before speaking up, think about whether the issue directly pertains to you. If the answer is yes, then you’re entitled to an opinion.
- Audience: Don’t confuse venting with productively voicing your opinions. Complaining to your co-worker doesn’t really help. Speaking up needs to happen in front of the right audience who can actually implement your feedback or fix the issue.
- Medium: Low-risk issues like where to have a team lunch can be handled via email or text. But more sensitive topics like a conflict with a co-worker are best handled in-person, on the phone, or video chat.
- Consequences: Think through the consequences of NOT speaking up. If you don’t say something, will your team launch a project with a huge error or take steps that you believe are borderline unethical? That’s worth pointing out sooner rather than later.
- Offer a solution: Problem-solving is valuable in every situation. If you’re pointing out an issue, be sure to identify the problem and offer a solution. You will also build trust and credibility with your leader and team.
- Time and place: Is your feedback urgent, or would it improve by pressing pause and thinking it through? Is it something sensitive or potentially embarrassing? A one-on-one conversation might be a better option. Does everyone on the team need to hear it? Then most likely a team meeting is best. Consider when and where you chime in — it can make all the difference in how the message is received.
- Avoid defensiveness: If your feedback is challenged, respond constructively. Assume good intent and don’t view it as a personal attack, but rather an attempt for more clarity. Approach crucial conversations with a growth mindset rather than assuming how the other person will respond.
More importantly, remember this…even if your voice rocks the boat, expressing yourself at work is important. You have knowledge, ideas and perspectives that are worthy and deserve to be heard. Plus, flying under the radar ultimately undermines your value. So, speak up and get in the conversation. If you need help being seen and heard at work, we’d love to help! Contact PRC at https://www.powersresourcecenter.com/lets-connect/