Speaking up hurts sometimes

Written by Laurie Hillis

Hi, I’m Laurie Hillis, I love what I do: the learning, the process, and above all, seeing how my clients grow as leaders.


May 31, 2023

Image © by woolzian via canva.com

How offering unique ideas and challenging the status quo can sting when your workplace isn’t safe

Have you ever felt punished for voicing an idea or opinion at work? How did it feel?

Have you ever been thanked and celebrated for having a novel idea or opinion at work? How
did it feel?

One scenario will leave you saying “Hell no” to ever offering another potentially unpopular
opinion again (hint: it’s the first one) and one will make you feel pretty damned good about
contributing real value, and want to do it again (hint: it’s the second one).
We hear a lot about the importance of psychologically safe work environments that encourage
people to speak their minds. In “safe” workplaces, employees feel valued and enjoy their work.
An added benefit to the company is that they often produce superstars with super ideas that
propel the company upward and onward.

Timothy Clark, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety and Founder of Leader Factor,
an organization specializing in physiological safety training and technology, offers brilliant
insight and the “how to” for creating safe workplaces. He says, “Just like humans need water,
food, and shelter to survive, teams that want to innovate need four things in order to thrive: they
need to feel included and safe to learn, contribute, and challenge the status quo. Teams
progress through these stages as they intentionally create cultures of rewarded vulnerability.”
Rewarded vulnerability. What an interesting idea. It acknowledges that offering something up
requires vulnerability (I would add, courage) and, in order for an organization to thrive, it is
necessary to reward people when they do it.

As a leader, do you make it safe for your employees to offer their unique ideas, opinions, and to
challenge others, even you? How do you respond when they do it? Your response will mean the
difference between them continuing to do it and never hearing from them again.
Clark suggests there are 4 Stages of a Psychological Safety framework that leaders can create.
More about his framework here.

Let’s connect:

If you want to know more about Megatrain and how we can work together, drop me a line:

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