In this section Why Doesn’t My Team Speak Up? we identify the reasons why team members may keep silent and also how you can get the best out of your team by getting them to speak up.
In order to harness the potential of a team, it is important to get everyone to speak up and share their point of view. The idea of a team is to use everyone’s unique personality, ability and experience to bring out a new perspective to the group and thereby create synergy.
While that is the ideal case, you may have a problem in your team where no one seems to want to give their honest input. When you’re asking for suggestions, what you’re getting doesn’t seem to be great solid long term suggestions, but safe and conservative feedback.
Largely, your team meetings are one way, you speaking and the rest of the team listening.
This could be due to a few issues:
- The culture of your company does not favor people giving their ideas or feedback. They often shut off people with new suggestions.
- The company frowns upon failure and mistakes.
- Your company does not work in teams usually.
- Your leadership style has traditionally been seen as autocratic and you do not expect your authority to be questioned.
- There is hidden tension between two members in the team.
- The team members simply do not know each other well enough yet to share their honest perspectives.
If such is the case, you need to be proactive to break the old way of doing things. You need to set the tone right for your team so that you can bring out the best in them through their open honest feedback and suggestions.
3 Tips To Get Your Team to Speak Up
Team Building Tip #1: Share all important information with your team.
You have to share all pertinent information with your team members. If you want them to give you quality feedback or ideas, you have to be ready to share the important information with them so that they can make an informed suggestion.
Imagine this, you ask them about ways you can improve the current business structure. Your team member spends about 5 minutes explaining this new idea he has, only to find out that it has been tried before and failed.
Firstly, you waste 5 minutes of everyone’s time; and secondly, you unconsciously make him feel embarrassed for sharing that idea. And all that can be avoided if you had simply put everyone in context by sharing all that has happened before.
Put everyone on a level playing field so that they can truly suggest ideas that can be constructive and move the organization forward.
Team Building Tip #2: Don’t shoot down bad ideas directly.
It is a tendency for all of us to disagree immediately with ideas we consider to be bad or unfeasible. But when we want a more facilitative environment, we need to consider the feelings of the one who suggested the idea as well.
Instead of saying: “But, that idea has flaws here and there.”, say,” Thanks for your suggestion.. let’s work in this direction and see how we can improve on it.”
Remember, your other team members are watching too. If you are tough on the person who suggested the idea by being critical or judgmental, you run the risk of no one participating anymore in future discussions.
In a team where open discussion is prevalent, there is usually very little fear or tension in the atmosphere. Use your authority as a leader to create that atmosphere; not to shut it down.
Team Building Tip #3: Express appreciation for their participation.
Always thank people who participate. Everyone who shares an idea chooses to be vulnerable, because they put that idea up for scrutiny and critique. Nobody likes to be criticized and that’s why sometimes it takes courage to even give suggestions.
That’s why you have to show that you appreciate people who speak up, and speak up well.At the end of the meeting, thank the team members once again for speaking up, if better yet, by name too.
You need to continually show that you value discussion and feedback before your team starts getting the idea that they should be speaking up together.
Changing this culture takes time, but it’s extremely rewarding once you succeed.