According to the article “How to get those silent workers to open up” by Managing People at Work on www.businessmanagementdaily.com, most teams have those members who, while they complete their assigned tasks just fine, never seem to have much (if anything) to say during meetings. As the leader of a team, it can be frustrating to be combated with these quiet employees, since you know they have something to say, but they never seem to do so. According to the article, there could be three reasons for this behavior:
- Shyness. Shy employees are easy to make out. While they can be quite sociable one-on-one, in a group, they’re attentive but quiet. Try to figure out the context. Do these quiet employees never participate, or do they only keep silent when certain subjects are being discussed, certain people lead the discussion or certain types of discussions — such as debates — are taking place?
- Try this. Notice when your shy workers seem most at ease or when they appear to have a strong opinion on the topic, and then ask for their input. Simply asking, “What do you think?” may cause shy workers to freeze; instead, try asking if they agree or disagree, and then ask them to elaborate. Thank shy employees for their contribution, and try to build on it. Shy workers need to hear their opinions being accepted.
- Fear. If shyness isn’t the problem, it might be fear. A quiet employee could be afraid of criticism or of being rebuked by management for giving voice to an opposing or unpopular opinion.
- Try this. While you must never attack or shrug off any team member’s input, no matter how outlandish it may sound, you must also encourage other team members to keep from being critical of others’ opinions. In addition, you can invite fearful employees to discuss their ideas with you in a comfortable one-on-one setting before sharing those thoughts with the rest of the team.
- Apathy. If your quiet employees just don’t care enough about their work or the team process to participate in it, this is a symptom of a bigger problem you need to rectify. These employees will often show their apathy in other aspects of their job performance.
- Try this. “Address their lack of motivation and its effect on their performance, and show them how their personal prospects depend on the success of the team,” the article states. Doing so will help many apathetic workers decide to become a more active participant on the team. If the employee has a severe case of apathy or it is affecting other team members, you may need to inform that person that he or she will be placed on the business’ disciplinary track.
Read the original article here.