July 19th, 2019
If you watched the recent TV show Chernobyl, you will have undoubtedly been fascinated by the depiction of what went on in the control room on the night of the disaster.
Rules were broken left, right and centre by the most senior person in the room and the employees around him struggled to speak up and challenge his authority. It echoes the premise of the book Black Box Thinking which talks about cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a theory that the more firmly we hold beliefs, the harder it is to let them go when contradictory evidence is presented to us. Having to admit we were wrong doesn’t come naturally, we’d rather insist we were right. And this is particularly a problem for people in senior roles or positions of trust.
And this of course has implications for employee voice. While Chernobyl is an extreme example, it does demonstrate the importance of everyone having a voice, a safe space in which to share it, and for it to be listened to.
It’s also worth saying that for employee voice to be effective, it needs to be informed. In his research, Dr Kevin Ruck has found that “there is limited value in giving employees a voice unless they are well informed in the first place”.
This blog was originally written for Alive with Ideas. Read the full blog on their website.