Yes, we’re all busy! But taking the time and encouraging employees to speak up ensures better solutions and retention of top talent!
Many leaders fear taking risks, especially today. And in turn, employees fear speaking up to report mistakes, ask questions, offer new ideas, or challenge action plans or decisions. With everyone focused on keeping their jobs or not rocking the boat, projects, and plans fail because no one risked standing up and speaking up!
(Watch “Air,” a film based on true events about the origin of Air Jordan, Nike’s basketball shoe line with rookie player Michael Jordan. An employee had to step up and speak up. It forever changed how players were treated.)
How to Get Employees Talking and Creating Solutions
First, ASK! The #1 key to encourage employees to stand up and speak up!
Second, LISTEN! If you don’t, they won’t speak up again.
Brainstorming! Many leaders do a poor job of brainstorming. They latch on to the first idea that sounds good! However, often, it’s not. Learn how to truly brainstorm. It saves customers, bottom lines, and retention!
Critical Thinking! Take the time to conduct an analysis of essential considerations with all ideas (e.g., budget, ROI, impact on others, company mission and vision, workability, etc.).
Listen, Value, and Build. Use good listening skills and value others’ thoughts and opinions. Then, build on these ideas. Remember, all ideas can spark new ones. Build on these for better solutions. Also, avoid consensus building and focus on alignment with team members before agreeing on a plan.
Encourage Everyone on the Team to Participate. Ask each person several times for their input. Then, allow them to say “pass.” Many times, the second or third time, they’ll offer great insights. So, don’t ignore or overlook them.
Provide Training and Manage Conflicts. While having differing ideas is important, it needs to be a safe space for employees to talk! Ensure everyone is trained on how to participate in meetings (NO! It’s not natural, and learning by trial and error leads to employee disengagement). Manage disagreements by ensuring every employee can share without being criticized, humiliated, or made fun of.
Team Selection Is Important. Most teams fail because they include employees with no interest or time to commit (but meet diversity initiatives). Seek out those with the interest and willingness to attend all meetings. Include those without the skills with someone they can learn from during the project.
Get Out of the Way! Like in the movie Air, leaders do get in the way! It would be best to learn how to work through new ideas without shutting down employees from speaking up. For example: After a 6-month employee project, a company president decided he didn’t want employees offering suggestions to solve a critical issue. The problem? He feared the risks of adopting a new approach to solve an old problem.
©Jeannette Seibly 2023 All Rights Reserved
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She is an award-winning international executive coach, speaker, and business author. Her wisdom of over 30 years guides clients to work through sticky situations and challenging relationships. Contact Jeannette for a confidential discussion. PS: She’s also a three-time Amazon Best-Selling Author!
A note from Jeannette about getting employees to speak up: I remember working with a client that bet me a cookie that I could NOT get her employees talking. Yes, I won the cookie! (And I’ve won other similar bets with other clients!) When you are willing to listen and value employees’ input, they will talk! Often, their ideas are better than yours! It’s learning how to do it! Contact me for a confidential conversation about team facilitation.
Have You Considered the benefits of strengthening your ability to ask for and listen to employees’ input about a project or plan? It makes a positive difference in your success as a leader! I have extensive experience guiding leaders to work with and through their teams to achieve unprecedented results. Contact me if you want an in-depth, one-on-one hour over 13 weeks. Remember, coaching speeds up your ability to win.
Ask your employees to share their ideas! This is a superpower that many leaders fail to develop! Then, they experience turnover, shaky bottom lines, and loss of customers. Working with and through others builds confidence and the ability to influence! Take action and contact me for a confidential conversation.