Have you ever facilitated a meeting with your team and asked for questions and comments about their thoughts… only to hear crickets chirping? Participation in these sessions is so important to gain valuable feedback and provide clarity around your objectives and goals.
If you are searching for advice on how to encourage your team to speak up, here are five tips that may help.
1) Start by asking a more direct question
It’s easy to get no response when you ask something like, “Does anyone have any questions or comments?” Instead, directly ask someone a question that requires more than a YES/NO answer: “What is the thing that made the most [or least] sense in this plan.” OR “What is one thing we could do to take this one step further?” Direct it to several individuals.
2) Appreciate initiative to ask the question, not just the question
Sometimes all it takes to open up a healthy discussion is one simple question. Appreciate the person who got the ball rolling. By acknowledging and appreciating the interest shown by your team, you reveal that their question matters. This will also help provide an atmosphere where they will feel compelled to bring up other questions that highlight some of the ideas or concerns they might have.
3) Don’t get thrown by an awkward or difficult question
It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. In fact, not knowing the answer can be the beginning of a fantastic team discussion to solicit others’ thoughts and opinions. Be honest and approach the discussion in the same spirit with which you wanted your own questions answered.
4) Encourage innovation and fresh thinking
No question or idea is a stupid one. Even if the question provokes a few laughs, I’m sure there is at least one person in the room that is SO relieved that the question was asked. Or, if it’s an idea that’s outside the box, take time to seriously consider it. Even if it’s not a winning idea, it will open the door for others to contribute.
5) Lead by example
Sometimes we expect our leaders to have all the answers – that’s a common perception. If you take the time to talk to your team and ask them about their opinions and then demonstrate that you are taking that feedback seriously, you will begin to create a more open culture.
By creating an environment of curiosity and open dialog to gain unique insights and understandings, your business can continue to be a leader in the industry.