Dan Pink is a favorite business author of ours here at Corporate Path Leadership. His new book explores a touchy topic – Regret. As we wait for the book to arrive, we stumbled upon an interview with Dan Pink that stuck with us. It comes from Forbes, and the author had a key takeaway point that is worth further exploration: building a team where members feel free and open to share their ideas.
According to the research that Dan Pink conducted for the book, he was surprised at the number of people who mentioned a regret of not speaking up more at work.
“People want to have careers and workplaces where they feel safe enough to do something, to say what they think, to take a chance. I think [there’s] a big lesson for companies in that.”--- Dan Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author
We started wondering how leaders could initiate new behaviors right now to help ensure that their team members felt comfortable speaking up. Too often, even if a leader says they want to hear multiple thought processes and ideas, they don’t spend any time demonstrating that belief.
Here’s how you can help make sure your team is comfortable and ready to participate.
STEP ONE: Formally announce that you are going to focus on improving team meetings in 2022 to make them more open and collaborative.
Announce to your team that you are starting an internal initiative to make your meetings more collaborative this year, and you need their help. Tell them you are going to set up individual discussions with each team member to garner their ideas on how the team can better work openly together and share ideas.
TIP: Emphasize that there is no such thing as a bad idea.
STEP TWO: Set up one:one meetings with your team members
Focus on really listening to their ideas. Make sure that in the meeting, you are writing down their ideas and asking probing questions to gain clarity on how the idea will help the team be more collaborative and open. The meeting can last 15 minutes or an hour, depending on the volume of ideas stemming from the discussion.
TIP: Ensure that you focus on their ideas and not any spontaneous ideas of your own during the conversation.
STEP THREE: Determine your top 3-5 ideas
Now it’s time to sort through all of the ideas generated in your individual meetings. You are looking for the top 3-5 ideas that you think would be beneficial for the team, and that you could implement in the near term. Depending on how many ideas your team came up with, you might focus on a few for now, and a few to try later. Keep all of the ideas in a collective form as well to share with the group. You’ll need that for step 4.
TIP: These 3-5 ideas should be something that can be immediately implemented with the team within the next 30 days.
STEP FOUR: Share the results with your team
Present the total list back to the team at the next appropriate team meeting. This is critical to building trust with the group and demonstrating the fact that you were listening intently to their input. Don’t share your top 3-5 yet.
Option A: Make this a true collaboration
After you share the full list with the team, ask them what ideas they think could be beneficial for the team’s growth, and implementable in the next 30 days. Compile a second list with their suggestions. Then ask them to rank these ideas, to narrow that list down to 3-5. If anyone shares that they don’t like an idea, or there are ideas that no one has selected, encourage the group to suggest ways to make these ideas better.
TIP: You can help guide them if they are struggling by noting one or two of your top ideas – but only after they have been given time to suggest their own!
Option B: Hold on to a little bit of control
Share your top 3-5 list — including who suggested them. Explain that you chose these ideas because you thought they were solid ideas, and something that could be implemented in the next 30 days. If there are other ideas that could be implemented beyond the initial 30 days, note those ideas as well (including who proposed them).
TIP: Keep all of the ideas available so you can add to the ideas over time. Ask the team if they have anything to contribute every quarter, or more regularly if you feel your team still needs more confidence in sharing.
STEP FIVE: Implement a learning in your own behavior
Finally, share one personal learning from the individual input sessions that you are going to implement in your own behavior in 2022. This learning doesn’t have to be a team meeting activity or process. It must, however, be something that you heard during the interview process with team members that inspired you. Encourage the team to do this on their own as well.
TIP:It cannot be an idea that you directly came up with on your own, or it defeats the purpose of inclusion and openness to other ideas.
These 5 simple steps can all be completed start to finish in a couple of weeks. We highly recommend trying these steps out as an experiment in the next two months and let us know how the results are impacting your teams.
Integrate collaboration and idea sharing in other initiatives throughout the year.
To get you started, we’ve focused on coming up with ways the team can better collaborate. Once you complete these five steps, see how often you can work them into your regular routines. Try integrating idea sharing the next time you have a brainstorming session. Have a business challenge to solve? Ask the team for ideas. Steps three and four should be the focus for this.
TIP: Generate input for Step 2 in one:one meetings or in a collective group meeting.
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