UCL School of Management

18 February 2021

Embracing unsolicited advice can benefit your workforce

Creating an inclusive and supportive work culture is essential for any organisations to succeed, but many businesses face the dilemma of how teams will deliver and interpret solicited and unsolicited advice.

Talking with HR Magazine, Blaine Landis discussed his research ‘How Employees React to Unsolicited and Solicited Advice in the Workplace: Implications for Using Advice, Learning, and Performance’ which looked into an organisational network study of the effects of unsolicited and solicited advice.

Landis says that when people receive unsolicited advice, it tends to raise further questions: Does this person really want to help me, or are they offering advice for another reason entirely? This can weaken the impact of the advice through the perception that colleagues are offering advice not out of genuine interest in helping us make better decisions, but because it seems they want to show off, take control of the situation, or another self-serving reason altogether.

Advice sharing, if done in the right way, is key for productivity and creating a culture where colleagues can help each other out and share their expertise. Landis study looks to not only identify receptiveness but to capture the necessary understanding of the reaction to unsolicited advice, identify the best practice and help HR teams and SMT to embrace it rather than reject it.

He suggests three key steps. Firstly, it is important to create the right environment and have open lines of communication for colleagues to check-in and share information.

Secondly, leaders and senior management must lead by example and offer their own anecdotes of how others’ advice helped them to solve a problem, or make sure they recognise those who helped and proactively offered advice to help overcome business challenges.

And finally, when giving advice think about the approach. Make sure the intentions are clear from the start, and show that the advice stems from a shared experience or knowledge in this particular area.

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Last updated Friday, 26 February 2021