When employees share novel ideas and bring up concerns or problems, organisations innovate and perform better. But managers do not always promote employees’ ideas. In fact, they can even actively disregard employee concerns and act in ways that discourage employees from speaking up at all.
While much current research suggests that managers are frequently stuck in their own ways of working and identify so strongly with the status quo that they are fearful of listening to contrary input from below, new research offers an alternative perspective: managers fail to create speak-up cultures not because they are self-focused or egotistical, but because their organisations put them in impossible positions. They face two distinct hurdles: they are not empowered to act on input from below, and they feel compelled to adopt a short-term outlook to work.