Building a Bold Work Culture: Why It Matters

Meghan M. Biro* says that psychological safety in the workplace is at the heart of a mentally healthy workplace.

Sometimes the biggest threat for an organization is not the most visible.

Emotions drive behavior, not logic.

One of the strongest emotions is fear.

Consequently, one of the greatest challenges and responsibilities of leaders—at all levels—is to combat fear and foster courage.

In yourself, in others and in your entire organization.

Our guest: Karin Hurt, CEO, Let’s Grow Leaders

In the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke to Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders; a training company focused on human-centric leadership development.

They help leaders resolve workplace confusion to increase innovation, productivity, and revenue without burning out employees.

Mental health and wellness in the workplace has been a trending topic for several months.

Psychological safety is central – defined as “the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation”.

After working with both executives and executive-level employees in the same companies, Karin realized that there was a lack of psychological safety in the workplace.

As a result, Let’s Grow Leaders partnered with the University of North Colorado to conduct a research study to understand when employees are holding back ideas, what types of ideas they are holding back, and what is stopping them from speaking up.

When asked what inspired the study on psychological safety and innovation, Karin said the following:

“We have worked with leaders from a variety of industries around the world and held conversations at the highest levels of those organizations.

“And we heard things like, ‘Why aren’t more people sharing your ideas? Why aren’t people talking?

“And then we would do training at the managerial level of the same organizations.

“And we heard things like, ‘No one wants my ideas.

“Nothing ever happens anyway, so why bother? And we thought, do you work for the same company?”

Why don’t employees speak up?

It is important that leaders are trained to be exceptional listeners.

It is also important for managers to create an environment of trust.

Why are employees holding back? Karen further explains:

“When we dug into it and found out why they were holding back these ideas, 50 percent said nothing’s going to happen anyway.

“49 percent stated that they were not regularly asked for their ideas.

“Sixty-seven percent said my manager assumes we’ve always done it this way.

“Forty percent said they lacked the confidence to share.

“And this one was really the most surprising.

“Fifty-six percent said they don’t share ideas because they fear they won’t be appreciated.”

Steps to building a bold culture

An employee’s lack of trust can result from many experiences and roles.

The result – trust and trust barriers.

As a leader, there are steps you can take to break through these barriers:

“So it starts with navigating the narrative.

“And that’s really showing very clearly about how you feel when you speak out at work.

“And then it makes it clear that you really want people’s ideas.

“Third, cultivate curiosity by being proactive and asking people for their ideas.

“It’s not enough to ask.”

Karen further explains:

“So we’re talking about responding with gratitude, thanking people for their ideas and information, telling them what will or won’t happen next and why.”

Building bold infrastructure starts from the top down.

Don’t just change the narrative; live it.

* Meghan M. Biro founded TalentCulture in 2008 to have a conversation with her colleagues from HR and leadership about the future of work.

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