The Great Resignation. Quiet Quitting. These movements, and the trends that drive them, have been an ever-present source of concern for employers (particularly those in the United States) for the past several years.
Given the far-reaching consequences of these movements, it’s clear that concern is valid. After all, by the end of 2021, more than 47 million Americans had left their jobs. An average of 4 million Americans quit their jobs each month in 2022. And, of the employees who do remain, Gallup found that at least half of them are “quiet quitters.”
These statistics are both startling and deeply sobering. Clearly, people are no longer content to stay at jobs where they don’t feel seen, heard, or in alignment with the company’s policies, management, or mission. Just as clearly, even when they do stay, there is no guarantee that they will give the job their all.
There is a solution to these problems, however—one that provides a win–win for both employees and leaders: create a culture where employees are empowered to talk about difficult issues and feel safe to be themselves. The way to do this? Master one powerful tool: The RIR Protocol.
What you will learn:
Empowerment is Key
The key to beating the statistics and creating an organization that attracts and retains an engaged, productive workforce comes down to empowerment. Your culture must empower everyone to speak up, ask for what they need, and engage in conversations that will help build the kind of space people want to be in.
Of course, the responsibility for building this type of culture does not lie solely with the leaders of the organization. It’s incumbent upon employees to take ownership for this, too. In other words, employees must be willing to speak up—in a conscious, intentional way—when they feel mistreated or marginalized, even if they haven’t been specifically invited to do so by leadership.
At this point, whether you are an employee or an employer, you are probably nodding your head in agreement. After all, most people understand how important a culture of empowerment is. The question, then, is how to build one.
The answer to that lies with The RIR Protocol. By mastering this tool, individual members of an organization will feel personally empowered to speak up in a meaningful and constructive way. Just as importantly, they will also be able to positively impact the culture of the entire organization, whether anyone else utilizes this tool or not.
Slow Down and Assess
The power of the RIR Protocol (RIR stands for recognize, interrupt, repair) is that it teaches people to slow down and critically assess what’s going on, find a way to stop it, and then move forward from it. This enables them to express themselves in a way that’s healing rather than divisive. You can imagine how being free to authentically express themselves—not to mention feeling confident that when they do speak up, they will be heard—leads to a workforce that is engaged, productive, and happy!
The RIR Protocol is incredibly versatile; indeed, it can be used anytime someone feels triggered, unhappy, or uncomfortable. Let’s say someone in your organization says something that offends you, for example. The first step is to recognize what’s going on internally. To do this, it’s helpful to reflect on a few key questions: How does your body react when you think about this issue or situation? What are your initial feelings about it? Do you notice any patterns in your reaction to this issue or situation?
Next, you should interrupt. This will help you begin the process of dialogue, while simultaneously allowing you to move from assumptions to a truer understanding of the issue or situation. To do this, ask the other person some key questions: What personal/cultural reference points are impacting your interpretation? What evidence are you using to draw your conclusions?
You can also simply ask the other person to explain why they said what they said or did what they did. Importantly, interrupting should be approached from a place of genuine curiosity, so that both parties feel safe in exploring what happened.
Continue With the Repair
The final step after recognizing and interrupting is to repair. Repairing is crucial in building a workplace culture of empowerment and safety, because it is what allows people to move forward with more cohesiveness.
There is no one right way to repair. However, once again, it can help to ask yourself a question: How can I get more information and demonstrate empathy? For example, perhaps you could have a follow-up conversation over coffee or lunch with the other person involved in the issue. Alternatively, you could share your experience with them, or invite them to share more context on the situation.
No matter what action you choose to take, don’t overlook this step. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of ending up with a culture where people won’t even talk to you unless they think you agree with them. Remember, the goal of The RIR Protocol isn’t to agree on everything; the goal is to create a space where people are safe to be themselves and to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Lead With Belonging
The more you practice The RIR Protocol, the more empowered you—and everyone around you—will feel to speak up. Ultimately, this will increase the sense of safety and belonging throughout the organization, which will have a dramatic effect on its ability to retain a strong workforce.
The benefits don’t end there. By making this culture clear in the hiring process, employers can more effectively attract top talent, too. That’s because prospective applicants will see that the organization isn’t just “talking the talk” when it comes to prioritizing people in a meaningful way; they will see that the organization is “walking the walk,” and they will respond accordingly.
When people know their leaders will listen to their needs, encourage them to express themselves, and support them when they feel uncomfortable, they will be more engaged and happier. That will lead to greater productivity and lessen the chances that people will “quietly quit” or leave the organization altogether. And that’s good news—for everybody.