Meetings can often get one-sided, fast. Maybe there’s always that one super talkative person, or the overzealous leader who doesn’t let anyone else get a word in. Maybe there’s one or two people who never talk, even though they have great ideas one on one. Erika Andersen, author of Leading So People Will Follow states in this Forbes article that “Managers very often act in ways that make it difficult for people to talk in meetings.” It can be difficult to achieve a balance in a meeting, where each member is actively participating and contributing ideas, but by urging the shy ones to speak up, and giving them the chance rather than ignoring them, creates a much more productive environment and meeting.
Keep these tips in mind when trying to encourage every member to participate in a discussion:
1. Get them involved in solving the problem, even if it takes a little longer. They’ll know they’re contributing, which will boost their confidence and open up future discussions.
2. Ask for help getting the work done. Again, this can sometimes take a little longer, but once a team member helps, it will save you time in the long run.
3. Get their ideas. You don’t have to be the only one with the answers. Ask opinions and use others’ ideas.
4. Ask them to propose solutions. Rather than always having the answer, ask, “how would you solve the problem?” It gives your employees a way to contribute, use their brain and feel good about their work.
By showing team members that they are valued and that their ideas and opinions matter, it opens up a new level of trust in the relationship, allowing the team member to feel more comfortable to speak. Forbes also states “If you make a consistent effort simply to give people credit for their ideas, this will go a long ways toward encouraging people to share more ideas.” Positive reinforcement can go a long way, and promotion collaboration will help the entire team become more proactive.