Have you ever attended a get-together and sat there with a smile plastered on your face? Then, after the appropriate amount of time, you left with your facial muscles hurting and your energy depleted.
I recently attended an event where this happened to me! There were about 30 people on the call, but only 5 people were interacting with the host. The rest of us sat and watched the interaction with smiles plastered on our faces! It was like watching a tennis match of back-and-forth dialogue between a few select people. And because they didn’t include us, there was no opportunity to add to their conversation.
Those of you who know me know I’m not a wallflower. So, why did I feel deflated after attending what was supposed to be a fun event?
When I shared this with a friend, she said, “You didn’t feel included.”
“You’re right!” I responded. A light-bulb moment.
Then we talked about how employees, managers, and team members feel when they are not part of the clique or the leader’s inner circle. Because it’s hard to keep that fake smile plaster on your face every day!
As leaders, it’s everyone’s job to engage and include each and every person on the team! That’s being inclusive! And, in today’s workplace culture, this is a critical skill you must develop!
7 Tips to Be Inclusive
- Welcome Each Person as they Join the Meeting, Virtually or On-Site. Use their first name (or, the name they wish to be called).
- Introduce People to One Another. At any type of meeting or social gathering, take responsibility to introduce people to one another. On Zoom calls, allow 15 seconds for each person to give a quick intro. Being seen and heard sets a positive tone for the meeting or event.
- Ask for Each Person’s Opinion. During brainstorming and idea generation activities, give everyone a chance to speak. Give them the option of “passing.” I go around the group more than once to ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak. And I usually get better interaction the second time around.
- Acknowledge Each Idea. Say something positive, “Wow!” “That’s great.” “Hadn’t thought about that one.” When you value each idea, others feel more comfortable offering their thoughts and insights. Reserve judgment about the quality of the ideas for later. It’ll be obvious if an idea won’t work for a project or issue. However, I’ve seen the lamest ideas become epic solutions! So, learn patience and trust the process!
- Don’t Offer Your Ideas Upfront (as the leader or boss). During true brainstorming activities, you want people’s unfiltered Wait until everyone has an opportunity to share, then offer your ideas. If you don’t wait, people that disagree or have more experience than you may feel uncomfortable sharing. It’s amazing how this simple tactic will generate more engagement and better ideas. (In case you’ve not read my recent articles, only 10% of teams produce intended results!)
- Assign Tasks Appropriately. When assigning tasks, base your decisions on the person’s skills and not on who you like the best. Allow people to volunteer first before making assignments. If a person raises his/her hand and doesn’t have the skills, team them with someone who is an expert and excellent teacher. Otherwise, the tasks may not get done and the person will disengage from the team.
- Appreciate Each Person. Make sure to appreciate each person for their contribution no matter how large or small. Remember to use “please” and “thank you” often.
©Jeannette Seibly 2021
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach, management consultant, and keynote speaker for over 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A Note About Being Inclusive from Jeannette. Being inclusive isn’t hard. But you must have the intention, skill, and commitment to include all people during calls or on-site meetings. There are many training and coaching programs available to develop these skills. If you’re hesitant about what to do, let’s start a conversation to get you into action. Contact me!