As a team leader, have you ever gone into a meeting and asked for feedback and no one wanted to say anything? This can happen for a lot of different reasons…. Sometimes people are concerned about repercussions; others do not know how to “complain” without hurting feelings; some are intimidated in a group setting; etc., etc. How can you overcome these issues and get communication from everyone that will be productive?
- Level the Team Playing Field—Let everyone know that all their ideas and thoughts are valid, and that they are all equal members of the team when it comes to sharing ideas for teamwork efficiency. Since they are the ones doing the actual work, their feedback is essential.
- Give Time to Think in Advance- It is too difficult and often stressful for people to be put on the spot: “What do you think about X?” Give them some advance communication about the meeting and its purpose. If you do not want to give them an “agenda” beforehand, at least let them know you would like them to think about _____ and bring their ideas to the meeting.
- Ask questions on how to improve specific items. “Some patients are complaining about the wait time. What can WE do to improve on this?” This puts the emphasis on the issue –and not asking to single out team members who may be causing the problem (though this may be revealed in discussion). You want solutions, not blame.
- Give positive responses for all ideas put forth. Nothing will shut people up faster than a negative comment. If people are risking judgement of their ideas, you as the team leader need to at least thank them for sharing. Make note of all ideas that are brought to the meeting.
- Follow-up with team members on actions that will be taken as a result of their team discussion. If you do not do this and things never change, people will start to feel that these kinds of sessions are a waste of time.
- If you try this and people are still silent, try again after a week or two. Don’t give up.