Let's Have the Courage to Speak Up

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 27 June 2023
Olga Pollock
firmus energy
Issues covered: Employee Engagement; Speak Up Culture; Radical Candour; People Management

According to a recent article by the HR Director, many employees fear speaking up to those in power who may take a dim view and regard them as unpopular or even disloyal. Yet according to the CIPD, one of the key behaviours people professionals need is having the courage to challenge decisions and actions. This means voicing our concerns when we know something isn’t right and making a stand when necessary.

But what is the best approach to this? If we go in ‘all guns blazing’, putting the world to rights, it is doubtful this will be well received and is more likely to antagonise people and get their backs up.

Radical candour on the other hand, is a concept around assertiveness, developed by Kim Scott, author and business guru. Kim’s framework is based on four key styles of communication, as shown below, which are underpinned by two elements for having the so-called radically candid conversations, namely to care personally and challenge directly.

To care personally means showing an interest in the person you are addressing, whether that be a peer or a senior. We can do this by simply asking how they are and if there is anything we can do to help or support them. While this stage is crucial, it is ineffective on its own as we really need to get to the crux of the problem and challenge directly by outlining what the issue is. This stems from the belief that in order to truly care about someone we need to be prepared to tell them whatever is needed to help them grow and develop as a person and support them in solving their problems. This, after all, is what a genuine friend or colleague does.

Similar in one regard, but opposite in the other, is obnoxious aggression whereby communication is direct and unfiltered with no regard as to how it will be received. Sometimes this can happen out of frustration when someone has held their tongue for too long and then has an outburst. It could be argued that while this is likely to sour working relationships at least the issue is out in the open, albeit without a decent bedside manner.

The other two quadrants of the radical candour framework are said to be the least effective in terms of giving feedback and include manipulative insincerity (the don’t care, say nothing approach) and ruinous empathy which is what happens when we care about someone but don’t speak up for fear of hurting their feelings. Meanwhile the other person remains oblivious to the problem or how to fix it.

The radically candid approach is not easy, so this is why it takes courage to adopt this style. Most of us shy away from awkward conversations and confrontation, especially with our seniors. But if we really want to be the best HR version of ourselves, we need to live out our CIPD behaviours, put any niggles behind us and face these conversations head on, and in a caring manner. This not only benefits the other person but also ourselves, by preserving our own professional and moral integrity.

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This article is correct at 27/06/2023

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Olga Pollock
firmus energy

The main content of this article was provided by Olga Pollock. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)79 7389 3448 or email oppollock@firmusenergy.co.uk

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