Stop Telling Employees To Speak Up.


I hate companies that insist employees “speak up” or “be vocal” in order to “raise their profile”. Now I get that if you don’t take the opportunity to interact with the higher ups, it’s a painful reality that they won’t even know that you exist. So come performance review time, you’d more likely than not be passed over for that raise or promotion. But speaking for the sake of taking attendance is just wasting everyone’s time, and good management needs to learn to recognise these airtime thieves who typically fall into three categories.

  • The Echo-er – This employee repeats and rephrases what everyone says, while adding nothing of his own, to take credit for other people’s ideas.
  • The Encourage-er – This employee jumps in to agree and praise other people’s opinions. Isn’t that good, you say? When you take a closer look, you’ll realise he only does that to people who are more senior to him or are important to his career. Do remarks like, “I totally agree with boss’ comment” or “Head honcho makes an excellent point” sound familiar? 
  • The Extra – This employee brings up random topics that have zero relevance to the discussion in order to appear as someone who can “think outside of the box”. So if we’re discussing workplace safety, he’ll suddenly go on a random tangent to talk about the biscuits in the pantry. That’s not just outside the box. It’s outside this universe.

I challenge anyone in a management position to play a game of Bingo (silently of course!) in meetings to identify employees who fall into the above categories, and be honest with yourself and admit if you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes all these years. Then, consider what kind of culture you’re building by tolerating such antics, or at the very least, how much more productive your meetings would be if these behaviours are curbed.

2 thoughts on “Stop Telling Employees To Speak Up.

  1. themeanhrlady says:

    Thanks for highlighting the opposite situation – when management is dictatorial and prefers employees to shut up and be “yes” men!

    I guess this just further reinforces the point that a company culture is heavily impacted by what behaviours managers and leaders tolerate.


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