Why Your Company Needs A Collective Voice
The most forward-thinking companies are increasingly focused on building better employee satisfaction and, in turn, retaining their best talent. These progressive companies are also embracing the notion of having a collective voice. This gives the entire organizational chain influence over business decisions so more people on the ground floor are heard, and leadership gains a better understanding of daily operations.
What Exactly is a Collective Voice?
The idea of a collective voice may at first glance seem cumbersome -- just how do you handle getting people from varying backgrounds with different needs and different ideas on the same page?
Well, it’s not necessarily about letting the janitor into the boardroom to help make decisions about company direction, nor is it about setting up a union that demands good healthcare and adequate wages. It’s about recognizing the overarching values that permeate throughout the work your company does and letting them dictate how the organization progresses and evolves.
In fact, it’s likely that the foundation of your company’s collective voice already exists. But without its cultivation, your organization won’t realize its full benefits.
According to researchers, the traditional model of senior executives making carte blanche (and sometimes even arbitrary) decisions for mid- and entry-level workers often leads to employees feeling disengaged and undervalued. Employee disengagement is a big deal to your company’s bottom line. Studies show that organizations that make it a top priority to keep engagement scores high have better customer engagement, better productivity, and gain 21% more profits than those that don’t.
What’s so valuable about the collective voice model is that it typically provides win-win advantages for both employees and employers. On one hand, employees gain more ownership over their work, and on the other, leadership realizes better quality work and higher profitability.
How to Build Your Organization’s Collective Voice
It starts with listening — not just with surveys or focus groups, but truly listening. We at David Couper Consulting teach heart-centered listening, which means that we listen to not only what people are saying, but what they are not saying. They may be smiling and saying, “everything is fine,” but their heart is breaking over their teenager, or they may be angry about the way their boss treated them last week or frustrated with their pay.
In the end, it’s all about listening and creating an environment which allows workers to communicate freely. Some executives believe that leadership should offer a variety of different outlets to gain input from their employees, such as one-on-one meetings, anonymous surveys, and 360-degree feedback and peer recognition programs.
Here are 3 tips on implementing a collective voice in your organization.
#1 -- Build Bridges, Not Walls
One of the biggest obstacles to a fully-realized collective voice is poor communication and collaboration between different parts of an organization – labor/management, physicians/administration, patients/providers. It’s unfortunate that embedded in American work culture are lines drawn in the sand between these partnerships which desperately need each other for businesses to succeed.
It has been proven time and again that when employee and employer relationships are strong, businesses thrive. Usually, all it takes is leadership that is willing to listen and have empathy. Studies show open empathic communication can help reduce employee turnover by almost 60%; it even makes workers almost five times more likely to do their best work.
Therein lies the opportunity. Sometimes, it’s difficult to engage in constructive criticism without jumping to the defense. But it is possible to have real conversations in which we don’t get triggered or defensive. In guided, productive conversations, we will instead listen to the comments which we may not find helpful at first glance but within later find hidden gems. Instead of taking a position, we can put our judgments down and actually benefit from engaging collectively. We at DCC strive to teach organizations to have healthy and open communications to help build their collective voice and, in turn, build a better business.
#2 -- Don’t Make Dissension a Bad Thing
It’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be on board with an organization's shared vision and values. Workplace dissent isn’t necessarily bad, and it can actually be quite healthy to have ideas challenged. Plus, it helps flush out and integrate new ideas.
We can listen to what is not being said by looking at opinions online. For example, one of the top healthcare organizations in the US has many complaints from employees on Glassdoor. However, in USA Today’s Report, it is commended for how it treats its patients. What is causing this gap? It’s likely that increased internal conversation could clarify the needs of its employees, and therefore clarify the organization’s collective voice.
It’s also good to note that dissension may also be communicated differently from people due to their emotional and cultural backgrounds; what may look like anger may just be animation or even anxiety. What may appear to be nonchalance may just be objectivity. Be sensitive to those factors as well.
#3 – Agree on Values and Live by Them
Ask people what is important to them. Does a nurse want his manager to take the time to say “good morning” to him? Is this small gesture a display of respect and communication and important in company values? Does a physician want time to grieve the death of a patient? If so, it could be that authenticity and compassion are important values. When you discover what is at the heart of what you do, then you start having conversations which reflect those values. When this becomes clear, you take actions that support those values. Research shows that almost 70% of employees would be more inclined to work harder if they felt more appreciated.
People want to believe in their organization. Give them clear reasons to.
While these three suggestions are a great beginning, you may need guidance to navigate larger organizational changes to feel the full impact of a collective voice. To learn more about how we can help you assess and enrich your company’s collective voice, contact us for a free consultation at Info@DavidCouperConsulting.com.
It’s the first step toward better collaboration between employees and leadership as well as higher profits and lower turnover. We work with top industrial psychologists, organizational development specialists, and seasoned professionals to offer the deepest insight and clearest path to success within your organization.
What are your key takeaways from the idea of collective voice? Where do you see an opportunity for implementing these ideas in your organization?
Josh Espinosa is a freelance writer and designer. He also founded the Approachable Music project, a music education business on a mission to make learning to play easier and more efficient.