Shannon Roddel | May 24, 2019
Research has long suggested that strong relationships between managers and employees lead to positive outcomes, including employees feeling safe to speak up and take risks.
But new research from the University of Notre Dame shows that employees may not want to sacrifice social capital with their leader by voicing concerns.
“Who Says There’s a Problem? Preferences on the Sending and Receiving of Prohibitive Voice” is forthcoming in Human Relations from Charlice Hurst, assistant professor of management and organization, and Ken Kelley, Edward F. Sorin Society Professor of IT, Analytics, and Operations in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The study examined when employees engage in prohibitive voice and when leaders listen.
Voice refers to employees speaking up or making suggestions. Prohibitive voice reflects a concern about risk or an objection to how things are being done, while promotive voice calls attention to opportunities and benefits.
“We expected that employees who felt they had strong relationships with their leaders would be more likely to speak up with challenging messages,” Hurst says, “and that leaders would be more receptive to such messages from employees they felt they had a strong relationship with. Neither was true.”
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