“Not only hard to make but also hard to take:” Team leaders’ reactions to voice

  • Hanna L. KrenzEmail author
  • Michael J. Burtscher
  • Michaela Kolbe
Hauptbeiträge - Thementeil


Voicing concerns and suggestions is a central aspect of effective team communication. Engaging in voice has been shown to be an important factor for improving team performance and preventing errors. But voice can only make a beneficial contribution, if it does not fall on deaf ears. Little is known about the interplay of sending and receiving voice in teams. This is problematic because the recipient of voice bears much of the responsibility for the voice message’s outcome and will contribute to the decision if voice is implemented. This study investigates the team leaders’ reactions (i. e., implementation vs. rejection) to three different voice verbalizations (i. e., respectful, explicit, and oblique). We hypothesized that team leaders will implement respectful and explicit voice more likely than oblique voice. Building on the concept of rudeness, we also hypothesized that explicit voice will be perceived as ruder than respectful voice. We tested the hypotheses in 39 teams performing a tower building task. Our results indicate that, compared with oblique voice, both respectful and explicit voice increased the likelihood of voice implementation. Further, explicit voice was perceived as ruder than oblique and marginally ruder than respectful voice. In an exploratory analysis, we also considered the content of voice (i. e., promotive vs. prohibitive). Results revealed that the implementation of voice was related to an interplay between the type of voice verbalization and voice content. Our findings suggest an important link between voice verbalization and voice implementation and contribute to a better understanding of the complex dynamics of team communication.


Voice Teamwork Communication Leader 

Nicht nur schwierig anzusprechen, sondern auch schwierig anzunehmen: Die Reaktionen von Teamleitungen auf Voice


Das Ansprechen von Sorgen und Vorschlägen (d. h., „Voice“) stellt einen zentralen Aspekt effektiver Teamkommunikation dar. Es wurde gezeigt, dass Voice ein wichtiger Faktor für Teamleistung und Fehlervermeidung ist. Voice kann allerdings nur dann einen wertvollen Beitrag leisten, wenn sie nicht auf taube Ohren stößt. Bisher gibt es kaum Forschung zu dem Wechselspiel zwischen dem Senden und Empfangen von Voice in Teams. Das ist problematisch, weil ein Großteil der Verantwortung für das Ergebnis der Voice-Nachricht beim Empfänger liegt (d. h., ob Voice implementiert wird). Die aktuelle Studie untersucht die Reaktionen der Teamleitung (d. h., Implementierung vs. Zurückweisung) auf drei unterschiedliche Voice-Verbalisierungen (d. h., respektvoll, explizit und vage). Wir vermuteten, dass Teamleitungen respektvolle und explizite Voice eher implementieren werden als vage Voice. Darüber hinaus vermuteten wir, dass explizite Voice unhöflicher wahrgenommen wird als respektvolle Voice. Wir haben unsere Hypothesen an einer Stichprobe von 39 Teams getestet, die eine Turmbauaufgabe ausgeführt haben. Unsere Ergebnisse deuten an, dass, verglichen mit vager Voice, respektvolle und explizite Voice die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass Voice implementiert wird, erhöhen. Des Weiteren wurde explizite Voice unhöflicher wahrgenommen als vage Voice und marginal unhöflicher als respektvolle Voice. In einer explorativen Analyse haben wir auch den Inhalt von Voice (d. h., promotive vs. prohibitive) betrachtet. Die Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass die Implementierung von Voice durch die Interaktion von Voice-Verbalisierung und Voice-Inhalt beeinflusst wird. Die aktuelle Studie betont den Zusammenhang zwischen Voice-Verbalisierung und Voice-Implementierung und trägt zu einem besseren Verständnis der komplexen Dynamik der Teamkommunikation bei.



We thank Elahe Samadi for her help with the data collection and Andrina Stark for behavioral coding. We are also grateful to the University of Zurich’s Research Priority Program “Dynamics of Healthy Aging” for providing us with research equipment.


This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Project-ID: 10001C_169785).


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Social and Business PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Simulation CenterUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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