By Per Mattsson, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor
Many business owners struggle to create an atmosphere of open and honest communication among staff. When you don’t have this culture, you are taking risks with your staff and your business.
- If things are left unsaid, it creates tension in your team and can create conflict in the long run.
- Confused or frustrated team members can quit.
- Efficiency and service to clients can decline.
It’s essential to create an open and honest culture at your workplace. So how do you do it?
The key is to increase the frequency of feedback and broaden the areas in which feedback is given.
Performance-related feedback is the most common type of feedback, but in this post I’m going to share advice on how you can provide feedback related to values and trust.
Generating Productive Discussion
Try using moral dilemmas as a starting point.
A moral dilemma is a situation in which different solutions might be found depending on the people involved and the exact circumstances. Moral dilemmas can be made up, which makes them perfect for discussion with your team. Fictional scenarios are great because nothing is personal, so it’s easier to share opinions and take stands.
When using a moral dilemma to generate discussion, the “four corners method” can be employed. Come up with three different options and leave one solution “open”—each choice is assigned to a corner of the room you are in. For example, you could present a situation like this:
You walk by a conversation in the gym and can’t help overhearing it. A group of members and a coach are talking about another coach in the gym. The members are saying they don’t like that coach and her coaching style. The trainer who is in the group seems to agree. What do you do? Here are your options:
- I don’t do anything. I am uncomfortable handling situations like that.
- I wait until the conversation is over and then talk to my colleague about it.
- I go to my boss and tell her about it so she can deal with it.
- Present you own answer.
Think for a moment, and when I say “go,” move to the corner that represents your choice.
Of course, you can create other alternatives. This is just a simple example.
If you do this exercise with your team, all staff members have to physically go to the corners that represent their answers. This lets everyone reflect and come up with an answer, and it prevents the quickest thinker from voicing his or her opinion and limiting discussion. It also shows everyone that there can be different ways of looking at one situation.
With people in their corners, you can start asking questions like this:
- “Mike, you are in Corner 3. Could you tell us about your thoughts?”
- “Jenna, you are in Corner 4. What would you have done?”
Then you can use follow up-questions or ask team members to comment on what others have said. All of a sudden, you are discussing value- and trust-related topics in a very non-threatening setting.
Two-Brain Business has actually sent clients a scenario deck of cards that provides lots of great ideas for moral dilemmas.
Your Business’s Values
If you have discussions like this regularly, you will soon be able to move further and start giving feedback to individuals around values and trust.
As people feel safer working through these scenarios, you’ll have more and more opportunities to demonstrate and discuss the values on which your business is based. By doing so, you’ll help staff members choose the best responses to real dilemmas—solutions that reflect the character, mission and vision of your business.
It takes reps and practice to make this happen. But it’s worth it. Lead the way and inspire your staff to follow.