EFFECTIVE VOICING OF THE MESSAGE
Once employees have been trained in exercising their moral muscles, they need to learn to exercise them with care. Diplomacy in delivering an uncomfortable and potentially challenging message is critical. As pre- viously noted, research shows that employees who speak up are usually only the high performers with high self-esteem (Detert & Burris, 2007). Therefore, communication skill building is necessary for average perfor- mers, and for employees with low self-esteem. Gentile's (2010) 'Giving Voice to Values' (GVV) programme is a practical method for developing effective message delivery. This programme uses peer coaching to develop employees' ability to speak up effectively about perceived wrongdoing and to create viable solutions to the problem. Gentile's technique of 'speaking up' and 'listening down' trains managers and employees to actively listen when others speak up.
The purpose of GVV training is to develop employees' skills to frame and explain their position in an actionable form (Gentile, 2011). Participants are encouraged to share their own stories for analysis to help develop concrete examples of methods of speaking up. Participants are also encouraged to identify their own personal approach to risk taking and their own individual communication preferences in order to build upon them to develop more comfort and greater skill in speaking up. The programme emphasizes that people can speak up effectively in many different ways
(e.g. expression of concern, playing devil's advocate, timely questions, dis- agreement); the important thing is for each employee to find an effective technique that feels comfortable. The training involves anticipating the types of issues that may arise and developing and practising ways to speak up about them. It also involves anticipating colleagues' typical blocking responses or rationalizations, such as 'everyone does it', 'it's not really my problem', 'it's only a little thing', or 'I don't want to get others into trouble'.
One key feature of the GVV training is that together, employees learn to develop scripts for speaking up. Together they rehearse persuasive, yet non-judgemental responses to counter the common rationalizations that they may encounter when they speak up (Gentile, 2010). GVV's collective training involves management and subordinates learning together, which creates the communal expectation that not only will colleagues speak up, but they will also listen to others who speak up. GVV training encourages behavioural rehearsal and supportive coaching, supplemented by observa- tional learning where employees watch skilled role models demonstrating appropriate message delivery. These learned skills can later be normalized and practised again in routine team meetings that occur during the organi- zation's daily operations, making it a complementary tool to Sekerka et al.'s (2012) professional moral courage training.
In this chapter we have argued that substantial changes in the technologi- cal, social, ethical and legal context in which organizations now operate mean that it is in the organization's interest (both ethical and prudential) to respond differently to internal whistleblowers. Managers that ignore or punish internal alerts to wrongdoing create significant risks for the organi- zation. Silencing employee voice stifles early warning systems; risks expo- sure to regulatory fines or even criminal charges; increases the risk of external whistleblowing and subsequent reputational damage; and risks demoralizing or failing to retain ethical, high performers.
To enable organizations to respond proactively to these changes, we proposed a five-step action plan to develop an organizational environment conducive to fostering and supporting employee voice as a method of risk identification. These steps do not constitute a simple, quick fix for empow- ering employees to speak up about perceived misconduct. Like any change, it takes considerable time and effort to create a shift in organizational cul- ture, attitudes and behaviours to empower employee voice. The solution involves recognizing that an organization is a complex system and that all parts must be aligned to create a safe, ethical ecosystem that fosters ethical conduct and encourages and rewards candid employee voice. However, once that change has been made, the new organizational ecosystem will need to support and sustain employee voice. This ethical ecosystem must then be maintained, reviewed and recalibrated on an ongoing basis to embed employee voice within the daily routines of the organization. Despite the effort involved, a commitment to training employee voice represents a wise investment in risk management which builds and protects the organization's reputation as an ethical institution. Organizations with strong employee voice will no longer be making news headlines, except when there is good news.