Speak Up! It’s Good For Your Career
Being great at what you do is only a piece of the success puzzle. Another very important part of that puzzle is to possess the ability to speak up in the workplace with ideas and thoughts that add value to the business and showcase your expertise in, and engagement around, the the organization’s vision and/or it’s goals & objectives. Today’s demand for transparent communication in the workplace is at a premium, employees are simply not speaking-up enough – even though there are lots of thoughts and opinions in most organizations.
How you articulate your opinions at work [or not] is a reflection upon how people authentically experience who you are and what you represent as a team member and as an individual. Your actual voice defines and clarifies the value you bring to the organization. In too many instances, your identity isn’t positioned as strongly as it should be because your voice does not consistently communicate what is really on your mind and when that happens – it becomes clear to most people that there is a subtle disconnect in alignment between your words and your actions.
People hesitate to speak up in the workplace for all kinds of reasons ranging from shyness, to perfectionism [wanting to have all the details before saying anything], to fear of confrontation [especially with a boss is too risky for most], to the feeling of impotence [their ideas won’t make a difference so…what’s the point?].
The less you say, the more you empower others to define your voice and your identity in the workplace. The opposite of this is also true in many cases: If you say too much [especially if you don’t have your facts straight and are just speaking to have your voice heard], you create unnecessary noise, you then become vulnerable to criticism, eye-rolling, and/or gossip – and if you don’t have authority you can risk ever earning it. Therefore, your voice must be balanced, objective, and consistent. Being consistent doesn’t mean your voice is predictable and/or tedious. It means that you are able to astutely manage the how, the when, and the why of what you contribute.
5 Great Reasons To Speak Out At Work
IT FORCES YOU TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK:
There is nothing novel about this obvious advice and clearly something you do but, be truly honest and objective with yourself. How often have you just glanced at an agenda only moments before meeting kick-off? Or saved [or even printed out] PDF’s or PowerPoints but found yourself too busy so that you never actually read them?
When you present something to your team or your colleagues, you make sure to do your homework. But the mistake many people make is to skip over this step when they’re an attendee of a meeting. Taking time to read the materials or do a little research on the topic(s) up for discussion will help you understand the topic to know what and where you can contribute. Try to set aside – at least – five minute before any meeting to brainstorm and shape important points of feedback or questions. This will not only give you the confidence to raise your hand, but also the confidence to skip prefacing a suggestion with platitudes we hear so very often, such as, “This may be a dumb idea, but…”. Doing your homework will mean you need to put in a bit more time before upcoming meetings. But, if the trade-off is that you finally get to – confidently – share your ideas, be heard, and improve your reputation – it’s totally worth it.
IT ELEVATES YOUR PROFESSIONAL BRAND & PERFORMANCE:
Your performance at work can ostensibly diminish when your voice is not heard. Using your voice catalyzes discussion, innovation, and encourages others to share. It’s important to discuss issues openly in order to get input, feedback, and invite different perspectives into the dialog. When you voice your opinion, those around you provide input that you can then evaluate as you work toward the decisions that influence your action plan. Voicing your opinion can create and transform those same types of conversations into meaningful dialogs/meetings to help you drive highly sustainable performance results.
YOU EARN & COMMAND RESPECT:
When you voice your enlightened opinion(s) consistently, you begin to command respect from those who are not yet courageous enough to express themselves. But with that ability, comes responsibility. Therefore, always be cautious with the tone your voice creates and manage it – kindly. I don’t think it will be a surprise anyone reading this if I say that I have found that most people who speak-up in meetings or in the workplace in general, aren’t strategic. They speak – often regurgitating what was just said – simply to have their voices heard. These people are attention seekers that just want visibility – regardless of it’s impact – and they end up losing any momentum they have acquired along the way.
A consistent and knowledgeable voice will command respect – absolutely – when it is responsibly managed. Caveat: When you are courageous enough to speak out you also must recognize that disagreements and dissension are likely inevitable [and useful]. According to the Journal Of Applied Psychology, “even when [dissenting] points of view are wrong, they cause the rest of the group to think better, to create more solutions, and to improve the creativity of problem-solving“.
YOU CREATE YOUR OWN LUCK:
A consistent and informed voice allows your talent to be discovered and creates opportunities, previously unknown. When your voice is heard and you are strategic in how you ask questions and present your points of view you allow colleagues and superiors to see and hear your talent and value. With every meeting, every conference call – your ability to speak-up consistently and with confidence can create new opportunities. If not, your voice ebbs. You can easily measure your effectiveness by how you are included in important and pivotal conversations in the workplace.
IT SUPPORTS CAREER ADVANCEMENT:
There are many reasons that certain people advance more quickly than others in their careers. Some of those people are those that have truly mastered the art of speaking-up by having a balanced, intelligent voice that their colleagues respect and admire. Through their voice they enable the organization, challenge the status quo and support innovation, inspire those that don’t have a voice, increase their value and marketability, and provide leadership transparency and earn trust from the industry and people they support and serve. These people are shimmering, glowing stars in the workplace, replete with bland and silent masses.