Dealing with the Elephant in the Room

August 21, 2018

Laura shares her advice on how to tackle the dreaded elephant in the room and instead create an honest and transparent workplace.

By Laura Hayden

Open and transparent communication and the ability to speak up without fear of retribution are incredibly important for team morale, creativity and productivity.

The Elephant in the Room

The proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ or more specifically, the amount of time it takes for the so-called elephant to be addressed can be a key indicator of team success. Leaders should be looking to create an environment where psychological ‘safety’ is of the upmost importance and their employees can speak up when they have an issue or concern.

This does two things…

First, it makes sure that the gap between the time when someone wants to speak up about a potential conflict or an issue is reduced to a point where politics are not left to run riot throughout the workplace, ensuring that no further divides occur and the issue gets resolved quickly.

The second thing this does is increase your loyalty as a leader in the eyes of your team. Talking through issues and facing them as soon as possible creates an organic, trusting and respectful working environment, facilitating a ‘safe place’ for productive conversation around issues moving forward. You will be seen to be setting a good example by not tolerating gossip or unprofessional behaviour!

So, how can we as leaders continue to keep that pesky elephant out of our offices, boardrooms and places of work?

One of the most important factors to consider is the facilitation of open communication. Holding regular 1-2-1’s with employees and giving them a platform to discuss any potential issues or concerns is a great place to start. A key element of 1-2-1s should be two-way feedback; this is central to this process and extremely important to generating the results we need to be successful. It shows that you are open to criticism and encourage feedback.

However, receiving feedback is one thing. Actually, taking this on board is the crux of it. Unless you, as a leader, act on the information you have been given, ensuring (where possible) that employee suggestions are acted upon and implemented, the team don’t stand to benefit. Make sure those thoughts, ideas and concerns aren’t thrown into a black hole never to be mentioned again!

In doing this you are ensuring a healthy, positive and transparent working environment where matters that historically would have gone unaddressed and hindered productivity are now openly discussed. In being transparent, listening to concerns and acting on feedback from your employees, you take them on the journey with you – increasing their personal investment in you as a manager and ultimately, the organisation. Essentially, if you have an open and transparent workplace, there should never be an elephant in the room!

Looking for some more advice on creating an open and honest workplace culture? Just get in touch and we’d love to help!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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