How to use open questions effectively with your staff

After reading an article written by Stephen Bartos of The Canberra Times titled,  – Gen Y and Millennial managers: serving the nation requires more truth, less praise” I find myself compelled to write about the importance of communication in the workplace for creating healthy work environments.

This article brings up an excellent point. While I am both in agreement and disagreement with certain points of this article, I don’t feel as though the issues presented are directly related to personality types but more to, workplace culture. While the author does reference examples where culture is playing a role, much of the focus is placed on the personalities of Millennials and those from Generation Y.

Promoting a Healthy Workplace Environment

To look at this scenario from an HR perspective, one could take the stance that the issue being faced with workers from this generation could be exacerbated by employers. For instance if businesses fail to create an environment that promotes growth and development through implementing various learning strategies, employees may fail to recognize the fact that there is always room for improvement. It is important to teach staff members that there are benefits of constructive criticism and that giving feedback in the workplace in this manner is only meant to learn and grow from.

Constructive vs Destructive Criticism

With that being said, it is important that all staff members whether contractors, employees, managers or even owners, know how to provide constructive and not, destructive criticism. Providing effective criticism is sometimes difficult for those in managerial positions while handling any type of criticism, is generally difficult for the one on the receiving end (whether from generation y, or not).

Stop Reacting and Start Responding

Businesses should replace the word ccriticism altogether and instead, replace it with feedback. Instead of reacting instantly to situations, where criticism can often be given, take some time and respond with constructive feedback. This may help employees on the receiving end because criticism involves passing judgement while feedback, refers more to the results of certain behaviors, which can positively or negatively influence further performance. It is important to also note that the focus should always be on both positive and negative because without critiques, how would companies work towards improvement? 

Comments that are referred to, or perceived, as criticism can often be responded to in a defensive manner. This often leads those involved down a path of total miscommunication, which begs to question why people bother with engaging in this type of potentially, toxic communication?

Why All of the Miscommunication?

To be truthful, the majority of businesses don’t have staff members that intentionally engage in this type of miscommunication. In most instances, the reason for miscommunication within an office happens because the company neglects to have a solid business plan that promotes a healthy workplace culture. Many companies actually fail to directly address workplace culture because they incorrectly assume that all existing staff and/or future employees come to the table with the skills needed for things like effectively communicating.

As mentioned in the initial article that sparked this post, employers can’t assume that people have previously learned the communication skills necessary for creating the workplace culture envisioned for their business. This point only stresses the importance of a company enforcing proper staff training that teaches employees successful communication strategies that equip them to provide feedback and even, handle criticism when present.

Remember, Happy Employees are Productive Employees!

It is vital to promote healthy work environments with effective communication because without it, staff members and teams within the workplace will fail to work to their full potential. This is why it is smart for new startup companies or existing small to medium sized businesses, to hire HR consultants to help establish a healthy company culture that promotes effective communication.

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