Give employees time to follow your ideas

October 15, 2014
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 9:33 pm

Q: I have a new leadership team of very smart but silent managers. I want dialogue and debate but all I get is blank stares.  So to keep the meetings moving efficiently I end up supplying all the answers. How do I get them to speak up?

A: Sounds like the rate at which you process data is quite different than your team.  Your members may need more time than you are allowing- to take in and absorb the information – to feel confident with their responses.

You already know your message.  Members don’t.  They need ramp up time to get on the same page with you. Before launching into your topic provide a high level overview outlining what you want them to listen for, and explain how the information is relevant to them.  Better still send a summary ahead of time so they feel equipped to share intelligently in the meeting.

Are you overwhelming the listener with dense details, extraneous rambling, or a bombardment of rapid fire ideas- all of which are challenging to sort through?  It is hard to contribute when they are confused.  Keep your message succinct and on point.

Structure the conversation in a logical manner, slow your pace so they can digest your message and connect the dots as you speak.  Pause frequently inviting comments, opinions and ideas into the white space by asking short open ended questions. Remain genuinely open, curious and appreciative of their responses. Then exercise patience rather than pressure as they formulate their answers.

Recognize you are the highest ranking in the room. Sharing your viewpoint too soon or too often can kill discussion. Team members commonly feel the stakes are too high to risk challenging or debating after hearing where the leader stands.

Reprinted from The Province, September 28, 2014. 


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