5 practical ways to encourage your team to share ideas
OnRec have found that 32% of employees lack the confidence to put ideas forward to their employers. It’s a worrying statistic, especially when you consider how important it is to always be encouraging different opinions in order to get effective solutions to the problems that organisations regularly face.
Why aren’t people speaking up?
The reason for the lack of confidence could come down to personality traits — to rely on stereotypes for a moment, many introverts are less likely to want to put their hand up. They can be reluctant to share but they also often think longer about their ideas and really flesh them out. Making the introverts in your team feel comfortable and confident to share can reward you big time!
Other times, it’s less personality-based and more to do with the environment. When trust and communication is failing, many team members will hold back on sharing their ideas out of fear that they’ll be shot down, ignored or made to feel silly for their input. Building a trusting environment is essential for empowering your team members to share and collaborate.
So, what can you do to encourage your team to share?
Give your team the opportunity to share
Setting a time each week or each month to brainstorm and throw ideas back and forth is a great way to make sure that the opportunity is there for sharing. When leaders are hidden behind closed doors or there’s no open dialogue, there’s very little chance you’ll get your team collaborating.
Give a heads up
Calling a snap-brainstorming session might be necessary sometimes, but giving your team plenty of warning will give them the time they need to really think through their ideas and prepare to share them. Being put on the spot can often cause people to clamp up and be uncertain of what they want to say. While it’s true some thrive in the spontaneous environment, many don’t and giving your team a heads up gives your team a chance to prepare if they need to, or to ignore the warning and share their spur of the moment thoughts.
Provide a neutral location
Often, ideas sessions will happen in meeting rooms. This is great! Avoid holding the meetings in one person’s office or somewhere that your team might feel outnumbered. Keep it neutral to make sure there are as few external pressures coming into the brainstorming session. Take it to the next level by moving outdoors or heading to a restaurant or coffee shop to get new ideas flowing.
Don’t punish people for bad ideas
Have you ever been in a situation where someone has said “There’s no such thing as a bad idea?” only to then shoot down an idea out of hand? It’s all too common. And, while these people usually don’t realise they’re doing it, it can be extremely damaging for the confidence of those trying to share their ideas. When an idea doesn’t fit, or you attempt to implement it and it doesn’t work, rather than criticising the idea, take some time to analyse it and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Not every idea will work straight out of the gate, sometimes you need to try a few different approaches and tune along the way to get it right. There’s no use making people feel bad about the original idea..
Follow up on ideas
Always thank your team for sharing their ideas. It takes a certain level of vulnerability to share ideas and making sure you show your appreciation of their willingness to share will always encourage others to come forward. Ideas that don’t go acknowledged will often come from those who will never share again. When it comes to the ideas that you do implement successfully, be sure to celebrate them and make sure the team knows that it originated from one of their fellow team members, no matter how big or small. There’s no need to throw a party, but recognising the hard work and vulnerability of your team will go a long way.
Are you ready to help your team share more ideas? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.