How to get everyone in my team to speak up?
"Some people in my team do not dare to speak up because they're more of an introvert" "There are people in my team who don't stand up for themselves yet because they haven't been in the company for that long." We often believe that personality types, seniority level, etc define whether or not people feel confident enough to voice their opinion, the challenges they're facing and to speak up for the mistakes they made. However the real reason for people not speaking up is because they don't feel fully psychologically safe. Even though extraverts or people who naturally have more confidence tend to speak up more easily, there's no guarantee. The only thing that can guarantee this is a true safe environment. Once you've managed to create this, it shouldn't matter what personality types are part of the team, because everyone will be equally able to speak up at all times. If you've noticed as a team lead that there are some people in your team who have difficulties voicing their opinion or who seem to be holding things back, don't worry. If you haven't taken any actions to ensure that your team feels psychologically safe, don't worry either, but know that it won't happen automatically. The good news is: psychological safety is something that needs to be created. It's not something that's either there or that isn't, you really have to put in the effort. However nothing worth having comes easy right? The beautiful thing is: you can always change things up to make people feel better in your team. So even if today you notice that not all people are comfortable voicing their opinion it doesn’t mean that's going to be the case tomorrow. In this article, we'll give you three tips that you can start using today to create a more safe future for your team.
Say the right things
A first step to help people feel safe to say whatever they want to share, is to create the right context for it. Ensure them that no judging will take place, that there are no right or wrong things to say and that every input is very much valued. During your next team meeting, try saying: "Thank you for sharing this" "Let's not judge or interrupt one another when talking" "Mistakes are there to learn from" "There are no bad things you can say here"
Celebrate intelligent failure (and lower the risk for avoidable mistakes)
Intelligent mistakes are the type of failure that happens through unsuccessful trial - or in other words: trying out different or new things that lead to unwanted outcomes.
By praising this type of failure, you'll stimulate innovation-boosting behaviour. Team members will feel safe to think outside the box and test new approaches. Next to this, you prove to them that no punishment will follow after saying or doing certain things. Bringing them a step closer to candor. Mistakes are ALWAYS opportunities to learn from and improve towards the future. Nonetheless, not all types of mistakes are worth celebrating. Intelligent mistakes do, but there are certain types that can and should be avoided. Think of a doctor making a mistake when operating because an assistant didn't dare to challenge the doctor's approach out of fear of being judged or punished. Or a designer that failed to deliver a suitable solution to the customer because they didn't dare to ask help to someone with the necessary skills - a less critical mistake, but also one that could and should have been avoided. When celebrating the right type of mistakes, people won't be afraid to challenge decisions or to ask for help from others. Resulting in mistakes like this to happen way less often.
Instead of letting people take the initiative themselves, you can make it easier for them to share what's on their mind by inquiring participation. However, more introvert personality types don't always like to be put on the spot, so try to avoid saying "Tom, what is your opinion on this?" in front of everyone. Instead, bring up the topic during your next 1-on-1 meeting. This will not only help them feel more at ease, the extra time to think about it and gather information will also lead to more qualitative input. A second option to inquire participation from the whole team without putting specific individuals on the spot, is to give everyone a few minutes to write their opinion down on a post it note of piece of paper. After that, give team members one by one the space to share what they wrote down with the rest of the team. Are you a young and ambitious team lead in a creative agency of scale-up? Do you want to create a happy and top performing team? We're launching a program soon that will help you do just that, feel free to book your intake call with us for more information via this link.