When helping employees through an organizational change, make sure to provide for opportunities to “harvest the dissent.” Harvesting the dissent involves proactively soliciting worker concerns about the change in a supportive environment. For example, a simple technique might involve 1) asking employees to voice their concerns in a meeting, 2) recording their concerns in a non-evaluative manner on a flip chart, 3) lead a discussion on several critical issues, 4) transform the list and discussion into a Q & A document, and 5) distribute the Q & A to employees in a timely manner.
Harvesting the dissent acts as a type of “safety valve.” Wise leaders use this as an opportunity to start to deal with the concerns, recognizing that if they don’t harvest and manage the dissent, then someone else will. As a result, employees’ concerns are legitimized, de-personalized and de-emotionalized. A divisive climate does not magically disappear because leaders refuse to acknowledge it; “silence is not necessarily golden.”