The Missing Voice in Your Meetings (Four ideas to help silent team members speak up)

Teams that aren’t empowered to speak up will eventually break down.

Organisations and teams suffer when great team members lack the courage or confidence to speak up. 

All too often our best ideas and most innovative strategies in the meeting room die waiting behind a silent team member.

Great leaders know how to find the missing voice in their meeting rooms and reap the benefits in return. 

When employees can voice their concerns freely, organisations see increased retentionand stronger performance. At several financial services firms, for example, business units whose employees reported speaking up more had significantly better financial and operational results than others.” – Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely? – Harvard Business Review

There’s much to be said about creating a culture where team members are empowered to speak and you don’t need to search too far to find some great advice. So on a more practical level. 

Here are 4 ideas to help find the missing voices in your next meeting. It’s often the small shifts that make a big difference. 

1. Wait a Little Longer

We want results, we want them now and then we want to move on. Wait a little longer before you move on. Learn to be comfortable with the silence. In the silence your team are processing what you have asked and formulating their response. Move on too quickly and you might just miss what you need. 

2. Look a Little Closer

Who is contributing in the discussion. More importantly, who is not? Look a little closer at who is yet to speak. Engage, make eye contact, use their name and personally invite them to contribute. 

3. Go a Little Deeper

Ask the second question. How can you ask the same question in a different way. What is clear to some, may not be clear to all. If people aren’t responding take time to go deeper and bring clarity. 

4. Speak a Little Slower

It goes without saying. But if you are speaking, your team are not. Be slow to speak in the room. Allow others to contribute first, even if you have a great answer. 

When you do hear that missing voice. Be sure to affirm it, thank it and encourage it. Even if it doesn’t sound like yours. Every voice has something valuable to contribute.