Organizational Silence

Organizational Silence exists throughout many organizations/companies, large or small.  This phenomenon is the belief by employees that speaking up about things would either be ignored or would have negative repercussions. 

I have worked at organizations where this type of perception is rampant, and it’s not fun at all.  As authors Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison and Frances J. Milliken describe, not only is organizational silence inhibiting to innovation, but it makes employees less motivated, psychologically and physically withdrawn, and increases the risk of turnover.  Not being able to express one’s opinions/concerns about how the organization operates is demotivating.  If organizations want a machine that doesn’t think, but just does the work they should invest in developing robots. 

The bottom line is that organizational silence prevents growth, increases turnover (voluntary and involuntary), and can even go so far as to create a hostile working environment.  All of these symptoms cause a huge risk to the company over time that will eventually hurt their bottom line.  Top management need to make it their responsibility to encourage employees to speak up in a constructive manner.  Some of the best ideas come from the line employees who are on the front lines every day.

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