October 12, 2015
As leaders, we are often challenged to engage employees, and while we understand the benefits of employee engagement, we are at times unsure how to engage employees. As a coach, I am able to engage clients by making them feel safe. As the client experiences the safety of the coaching space, they gain confidence in the space, they begin to trust me and they freely share their challenges. In the safety of the space, clients blossom, they dream up big ideas and are able to confront their fears as they move towards their goals. When I lead a work-team, I use the same principles of a coaching session to engage employees. I declare my office a safe space and encourage employees to use the space to discuss concerns, take a breather from work, vent about an issue, plan work, or to challenge the status quo. Employees use the space tentatively at first, and as they develop trust in the space and me, both employees and I begin to see the payoffs in performance and employee engagement.
1. How to Set up the Space
The leader collaborates with the team to co-create the safe space. Together they:
2. Common Rules
While the rules that govern the use of the space often reflect the experiences of the team members and the culture of the organization, some common rules are:
3. Being a Safe Leader
Leaders have a special responsibility for maintaining the space, since they set the example for the employees to follow. Leaders are not asked to change their personality, instead they are invited to:
4. Benefits to the Leader
The safe space allows the leaders a unique view of each employee. We become privy to what makes them tick and what their concerns are. This makes our job a lot easier and we benefit as:
I enjoy working with the adult parts of employees – the parts that manage households, care for aging parents, plan private events, have dreams and do a myriad of amazing things outside of the office. In the safe space, I am able to engage these parts and, as a result, I am freed up from the minutia of management and move into the realm of leadership.