By Jennifer S. Wilkov Founder, Speak Up Women
Everyone wants to do more, build more, and make more money in today’s business world. Whether you are looking to engage and serve new customers or continuing to serve those who already know, like and trust you, it is important to speak up in business.
Take a moment to think about the multi-faceted ways we speak up in business and why it pays to do so:
Speak Up as A Company – Companies that value those who speak up ultimately do make more: more of a difference, more loyal fans, and, ultimately, more money. Firms like Whole Foods Market have a board in every store asking customers to tell them what they think about their products, stores and employees. Other companies like PepsiCo, GM, Heineken, GlaxoSmithKline, Deloitte and others who have a Speak Up Line or Speak Up policies where employees, customers, vendors and shareholders can tell them what they are doing well and what they are not. By doing so, they ultimately learn more about how they can better serve their consumers so they can, in turn, improve their business.
It just makes sense to ask the marketplace, “How are we doing?” and let the marketplace tell you. The best way to determine how to serve someone is not to pretend to be a mind reader, but rather to ask them and to listen. How do I know? My company, Your Book Is Your Hook!, was built entirely on this philosophy. This open line of communication has served my clients – and me – well.
Speak Up as an Employee – I know many employees with whom I have spoken tell me that it is safer to stay quiet and “keep my job” instead of speaking up when they see something that could be improved. The awkward part about this is that each employee is on the front lines – they are closest to the information that C-level executives need to know to improve their services and their bottom lines.
When I worked in corporate America, I spoke up multiple times about things I saw that could be done differently, more efficiently and more effectively. Sometimes it was appreciated and heard. One time, however, not so much. In fact, my boss tried to get me fired for voicing my concern. Thank goodness the executive vice president of our division thought I was too valuable to lose. I was moved another department – it was a blessing in disguise. I went on to revolutionize the communication between our company and the retailers we served by doing the same thing — going out with the sales teams, speaking up for the information we needed to do a better job of serving them and their companies’ customers, and designing a streamlined way to improve business for both our company and theirs. It completely changed the way we did business internally across departments and externally with our retail customers and their consumers.
Tracy Chou at Pinterest spoke up in the tech industry by writing a blog about the need for more women engineers in technology companies. She set the tech world on fire with her statements and declaration. People stood up and listened – and agreed. Pinterest is now leading the charge for her mandate. Amazing things can happen when you find the courage to speak up!
Speaking up in business is a skill some have and others fear. It takes a lot of courage for someone to speak up, especially in an environment involving their livelihood.
Think about it the next time someone comes to you as a business owner, C-level executive, director or manager. Commend the people who find that courage to tell you what could be done differently and who care about the success of the business.
These are the people you want on your team so your business can continue to thrive and grow.
Whether you are a business owner, an employee or a job candidate, consider the many ways speaking up can help you do more, get more, and be more – everyone wins when this happens.