Welcome back, Practicing Leaders. Today, we'll be talking about how do you create safe spaces at work? It's really crucial to be able to foster innovation, to foster collaboration, effectively create overall employee engagement by creating safe spaces. This week in the Practicing Leader podcast, we're going to talk about exactly that.
I'm your host, Parul Bhargava, and let's discuss.
You might be wondering why is it so important to establish a safe environment for, for idea sharing at work? Well, it might seem obvious. Yeah, we want everyone to feel comfortable sharing ideas. There's a risk associated with doing so for you to be able to make either your peers or your employees feel like they can express their thoughts.
You need to give them a space where they can feel like they are free from judgment as well as negative consequences for sharing ideas. It'll open up a whole new possibility of what kind of information you can get from your team or from your peers as to how you develop ideas and how you build things out in the most effective manner.
Like, just imagine a workplace where everyone feels empowered to be able to voice their opinions, where diverse perspectives are actually valued. And welcomed where mistakes are seen as learned opportunity learning opportunities versus something that brings negative consequences. That kind of environment is going to make it possible to be able to create the best systems possible.
So, how do you create a space where idea sharing is valued? We're going to go through and talk about some practical strategies. First and foremost. Leadership plays a pivotal role in all of this. As practicing leaders, we need to lead by example. We need to be open to sharing our ideas and encourage diverse perspectives.
This means when people ask us questions, engaging and having a tone where open communication and IG sharing is core to how we deliver information. And it needs to be something that we support throughout our organization or throughout our engagements with others. One of the ways that I do this is by asking open ended questions, either whether it be with your peers or with your team.
What do you think I should know? What are the things that you're struggling with? What are you proud of? These are things that will help you be able to draw out more information from everybody that you're engaging with as a way to be able to figure out. How do you share information and make it safe for information to be shared?
The next item here is it's important to establish clear communication channels. This could be regular team meetings, it could be regular brainstorming sessions, it could be, you know, using digital collaboration tools. Whatever the platform, whatever the way, create a space where anybody can come in and comfortably share their ideas and their thoughts.
And it's also kind of important to have some basic ground rules, especially if you're the one that's running the meeting. As an example. Things you may want to consider is how do you keep a conversation on track when it goes meandering off on another one is how do you pull people into conversations when they're mostly silent?
How do you hear the ideas from those quiet people? Because they may just be processing differently and they may need an opportunity to speak up to that point. If people are dominating the conversation, how do you ask those people to pause to create space for others to speak? And then finally. Asking clarifying questions and emphasizing why it's okay to do so talking about how we're working amongst one another collaboration and teamwork is also an important element here.
We need to foster a culture where Val where the value of working together is greater than individual competition. You need to find a way to be able to have individuals work together and feel like their contributions are valued and they can build on one another's ideas. Versus trying to pit one person against another.
This is when, like for me, what I do is try to make sure I give whoever is speaking my full attention. I try not to be focused on anything else because I want them to know that I'm listening. Next is making sure that people understand interruptions are not okay. Give space for everyone to be able to finish their thoughts.
Nobody likes being interrupted. No one enjoys that. That's just not good for anyone. Just do whatever you can to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be able to speak their mind. Lastly, Ask follow up questions with the intent of getting clarity, not with the intent of proving your own point. This is where the intent behind why you're asking questions needs to be solid.
And you need to do it in a way that is building others up versus trying to tear others down. The way that ideas become better is by being able to take constructive feedback about those ideas and make sure that they're developed in a way that allows the best of a process or best of a product come to the forefront.
Creating an atmosphere where providing constructive feedback is okay is important, and this is where people can then learn from others and take other people's life experiences and integrate them into the product that they're attempting to build. Creating an atmosphere of support and encouragement will help all people improve their ideas and feel safe in sharing more.
And lastly, let's not forget recognition and celebration. When employees ideas are acknowledged and appreciated, it reinforces the message that all contributions are valued. This recognition can be as simple as verbal praise, public acknowledgement, even to the point like, you know, and a quick certificate saying, hey, you've done a great job, here you go.
It's a matter of Giving the opportunity to be able to celebrate those ideas to encourage future idea sharing as well as boosting morale for the people that are doing. So it's going to create that positive reinforcement cycle that we need to be able to make people safe and be able to share their ideas, creating a safe space for people to be able to share their ideas as an ongoing process.
It requires consistent effort, open dialogue and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. This is where looking at all these ideas put together in order to try to figure out how do you make it easy for everyone to feel comfortable in sharing ideas with you so that way they too will want to engage with you regularly.
If you have any questions about this podcast or any other, You can always feel free to go ahead and drop me a line. You can go ahead and give me a call at 206 651 4312 and leave a message. Or alternatively, you can send me an email at questions at ThePracticingLeader. com. I'll go ahead and weave it into whatever conversation we have in the next podcast and make sure that your question gets answered.
This has been The Practicing Leader Podcast. My name is Parul Bhargava and I'll talk to you next week.