You’ve read the previous post (It`s Not Them, It`s You), and you`ve figured out that your team may not be participating in conversations because of your behaviors. You may have asked someone you trust to observe you, or you may be self aware enough to know that you aren`t fostering the kind of relationship(s) with the team that you`d like ?€“ the kind where they actually participate in problem solving, strategy, and take initiative.
You are willing to take some responsibility: what is it that you can do to turn the tide? What are your private intentions for their engagement? How can you facilitate participation by your team? Your personal pledges (plan) to change the situation may look something like this:
Listen more: I will slow down and really listen to what your team is saying. I will learn to catch myself before I speak and stop cutting them off or shutting them down. I will allow silence to unfold because this means my team members are thinking. Thinking is good for them, for me, and for our organization.
Respect and thank your team for their input: I will work on my own belief that I know what is best. I know it will take courage for me to do this, but I need their input in order for us to make balanced decisions. I will not dismiss or ignore their ideas, as they may understand the situation better than I do. I will pause, think, and consider what`s good about what they`ve offered and speak about that. I will thank them for participating.
Ask open ended questions: I will ask questions that begin with the word “what” that you really don`t know the answer to. I will re-read The Art of Inquiry.
Shut up: I will stop asking questions and resist the urge to always provide my own answers. I will be curious and ask more questions. I recognize that by doing this, I will also learn some new things.
Embrace the messenger: I will stop shooting the messenger, and take Mom`s advice when it is appropriate to do so: “If you can`t say something nice, don`t say anything at all.”
Curb impatience and temper: When I reflect on my anger, I often find that impatience and temper are the manifestations of fear. I will consider the fears that may be contributing to shutting others down. I will tame my anger by hitting the pause button and taking some deep breaths to prevent it from showing.
When you are in the process of re-engaging your team, you must be consistent in practicing the above. Ask for their help and feedback to recognize when you steer off course. The changes will take time; they are simple but not easy. Find support and accountability in a trusted mentor or coach, and keep at it. In time, the conversations with your team will flow with creativity, support, and new ideas.