As a journalism major in college, I believe one of the most important freedoms that the Constitutional Amendments provide is the freedom of speech. I have held that value in high regard as a supervisor as well.

I think there is a fine line between wanting free speech from your employees and trying to restrict it. If you want to receive honest feedback, seek to encourage constructive conflict and cultivate the trust to grow together creatively, then you must encourage an environment where people are free to speak their truth. Even when you don’t like what they say. Especially if you don’t like what they say.

If all you hear is the positive or polished version of your employee’s opinions, it won’t be long before you are missing out on reality. You need your staff to question your decisions, make suggestions as to your process or to disagree with a path you are proposing. In the end, you may do what you wanted to do anyway, but you will be doing it with much more intentionality and wisdom than without the unedited feedback. 

It would make life easier for those at the top to only hear supportive comments and not be questioned. As a manager, if you want “Yes Men” (and women), you can craft an environment or even policies that ensure that is what you get. 

But if you want to cultivate a growth culture in the long term, then the dissenters need to have as valid of hearing as those who think your ideas are brilliant.

beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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