I manage a culturally diverse team, which in theory is great for bringing different viewpoints to the table. What I’m finding in practice, however, is that it can be challenging to draw out some of the softer-spoken, more introverted team members when the group meets. Certain people seem to dominate the conversation, while others remain quiet.
I’ve even used the technique you teach of saying, “(Name), we haven’t heard from you yet, and I’d enjoy your input on this.” Unfortunately, I’m sounding like a broken record, and I’m frustrated because I know we’re missing out on some great insights. What else can you suggest?
-Seeking Everyone’s Input
I have two techniques you can implement to encourage everyone to share their opinions and ideas at your next meeting.
First, before your group gets together, meet with the more reticent people individually. Tell them, “I’m really going to count on your input today, so please speak up when you have a suggestion. In fact, may I have your permission to hold you accountable for contributing at today’s meeting?”
In the same vein, meet with the more verbose individuals, saying, “I count on and appreciate the input you provide at meetings. It’s also in our best interest to draw out quieter members. Given this, after you’ve delivered your best idea, would you please hold back on any further suggestions until everyone has had a chance to contribute? Thanks for helping me make this happen.”
Second, steal an old improv technique and use “Yes, and…” to keep the ideas flowing. We typically default to “Yes, but…” Notice the difference:
“Yes, the company could create our own app, but that could be expensive.”
“Yes, the company could create our own app, and that could be expensive. What are some additional ways we could gain similar visibility for less?”
Continue to encourage your team members and produce a supportive environment for sharing ideas. That way, you will reap the reward of gaining insight from all team members.