Stepping Up: Three Ways to Get People to Speak Up at Work

Stepping Up: Three Ways to Get People to Speak Up at Work

Are you leading your team through the process of stepping up?

Do your people feel free enough to voice their opinions? Does your team bring you good ideas and express their thoughts on how to make improvements? Are your people stepping up to challenges? Would you prefer your people to challenge you, give valuable feedback and speak up with any concerns they have, or stay quiet and be passive-aggressive?

Stepping up at work allows you to break down barriers. Learn more about Dr. John Izzos revolutionary program.

Research shows that when people feel they can speak up at work they are more committed and engaged. We also know that when people speak up, teams make better decisions because of the diversity of views that are explored. What’s more, it turns out that people who speak up and disagree constructively are more admired by their superiors as well as their colleagues.

So how do we get people to speak up more?

Stepping Up: Three Simple Steps

Today I want to talk to you about three simple things that we can do as leaders on a regular basis that will encourage others to voice their opinions and step up.

1. The first thing is to ASK people to speak up! This seems obvious, but you would be amazed at how many leaders and companies do not ask.

My former boss Frank Scorch once told me on the first day of my job, “If we agree with each other all of the time, one of us is unnecessary.” It’s important to show your people that you are interested in their ideas and to ASK them to bring them to the table. This is especially true in times of change, or times of transition. If you do not allow your people to be part of that change and to bring suggestions on the direction the company is moving, they won’t feel as committed and dedicated to the company’s success.

When Jack Welch began his change transformation at General Electric, he actually told people, “I welcome skeptics who will raise the tough issues.”

2. The second thing is to watch your reaction when your people DO speak up. My formula for the best way to react to new ideas is to say, “Thank you, tell me more.” Don’t let yourself automatically react—give them a chance to explain more and ask for more information. Sometimes we shut people down without meaning to, whether it’s a facial expression, body language, or just moving on quickly from what they have said. It can be extremely demoralizing to be shut down, and people that are will be less likely to bring their ideas to you again.

I heard a story about a new employee that had come from another company and brought up some ideas that had worked in his past work environment. Someone said to him, “Well, you are not there anymore, are you?” Ironically they had hired him because he worked for a highly successful competitor and then let him know NOT to share his ideas.

3. The last thing is call on people for their views. If you are in a meeting or have an important issue to discuss, call on individuals to hear their opinion. “Robin, what do you think of that?” “Jack, what is your perspective on this?”

Don’t let people stay silent! It is amazing how often people will speak up when we make it clear we WANT and even EXPECT them to do so.

In our Stepping Up workshops being conducted in companies across the globe, we challenge people to speak up constructively and also teach leaders to create a climate where people WILL speak up. And right now we’re offering this pilot program at a reduced fee. Connect with us to find out the details at

“The stepping up program helped us significantly improve our net promoter score.”–QANTAS 

Keep on leading.


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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