Have you lost your voice? There may be times when one is fearful about speaking up due to a work or team climate. Many of us have been in difficult team or work situations where our voice may not be valued. However, you worked hard to obtain your degree and want to help the company thrive. Success can often be found in the ability to present new ideas. Many organizations are learning that creative and innovative ideas are not sparked in work atmospheres where an employee has little to no voice. Unfortunately, there are still difficult situations or leaders that do not allow this kind of freedom within their team, department, or organization. How can you overcome this type of circumstance?
Careful communication can be key here. We learn as Penn State World Campus students that written communication is invaluable. In order to participate with an online team, each member should be given a voice. Typically, someone from the team will lead the group and set the schedule for the group project. However, this person or other students on the team may notice little participation from a team
member. I have found that reaching out to the individual and asking about his or her barriers to participation is helpful. Encouraging team members to not fear their right to voice an opinion is essential. Often enough, when team members are praised for their participation and ideas, one will see an increase in their participation levels. Encouragement to have a voice in projects and at work can help any team or organization succeed. But how do you handle the difficult leader who does not allow others to have a voice?
I have worked on teams that were not conducive to voicing ideas. I found that by attempting different strategies, you may be able to win some leaders over to allow you the opportunity to regain your voice.
Here are some tips that may help you navigate different types of leaders who do not allow for an environment that is conducive to generating new ideas:
- Take time to develop a respectful working relationship with the leader. Get to know this individuals and applaud his or her successes or attributes that help the team or the organization. Allow the leader to feel valuable, and he or she may return the same to you.
- Research your ideas and factually present them to the leader separately and away from the group meeting. If the leader is not receptive to your ideas, don’t be afraid to respectfully ask why this is happening. Learn from the response and be ready to address these types of barriers in the future.
- Develop a strategy so that when you present your idea, the only logical decision is to allow your idea as an option. In other words, question your own idea and find every possible scenario where someone could strike it down. Then address those areas in your initial presentation.
- If all else fails, don’t be afraid to have a voice. If you have tried every alternative that you possibly can to help turn things around, it may be time to take a leap of faith. Locate a leader in your organization who values new ideas and creativity and be prepared to present your ideas in an organized and logical fashion. Be sure to thank this leader for the opportunity to voice your ideas, but also let him or her know that your first priority is the success of the team and/or organization.
I have not met one person yet who has not made mistakes. Nor have I met someone who does not have something valuable to offer a team. I have met individuals afraid to assume the risk of creativity, who remain silent during a group project. Organizations today are valuing your voice, and you should too. Your education has prepared you for more than just the minimum level of participation. If you find that a team or work environment does not support innovation and creativity, there is no harm done in attempting the previously mentioned approaches. Your voice is unique. You have been taught through your education to outline your ideas with supporting research. Don’t be afraid to offer your unique perspective or ideas. If you are already a leader, don’t discourage idea generation. Encourage participation of all team members, and praise them for what they offer the team. In the end, there is usually a level of risk associated with just about everything. Don’t risk the loss of your voice. It’s too valuable to lose.
Jeanne Damon is pursuing her master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations at Penn State World Campus. She currently holds the SPHR, PHR and SHRM-SCP certifications along with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Bloomsburg University and is a Dean’s List recipient.