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Getting Everyone to Speak Up is Important

Just because someone on your team is silent doesn’t mean they are weak. The person may not be speaking up for a variety of reasons. The key for a manager is to know how to stop the more outgoing team members from overwhelming the others. Why do this? To make sure the team taps into the wisdom of all, and everyone listens to each other. As a result, decisions are stronger and more sustainable.

The wisdom of all team members

When everyone speaks up, you are more likely to hear the basis for potential disagreements, bad news or something you haven’t heard before. The team will have more information on which to base decisions.

All team members should understand the value of hearing everyone’s point of view, and why it matters. Tell them you are going to try several different techniques to make sure that happens.

How to get everyone’s point of view

  1. Ask the stronger team members to allow time in meetings for the others to speak up. One of our favourite rules is that everyone gets to speak once on their point of view. You can’t speak again until everyone has had his/her say.
  2. Speak to the quieter team members, encourage them to speak up, and tell them their contribution matters. And then compliment them after they do so. Thank them and let them know the value of their contribution. Tell them you value their honesty.
  3. For a really critical discussion, do a ‘post-it’ exercise. What’s this? Ask everyone to spend five minutes writing assumptions about the issue on a post-it pad. One assumption per post-it note. Have them write as many as they can in the five minutes, put the post-it notes on the wall clustered in themes, then discuss the themes. Now the more silent team members are not fighting for air time. This technique also works well to get around the ‘ranking’ problem when more junior people won’t speak up in front of senior people.

There are always going to be differences in how people contribute on a team. Some naturally speak up; others tend to be quiet. The key is to make sure that everyone is heard, and the team benefits from the knowledge and wisdom of all.

With our Intentional Teams Framework, one of the values we emphasize is listening. This creates a culture of trust and acceptance. Learn more about Intentional teams, our methodology and see if it is a fit for you.

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