Q: My team is pretty reserved except for one person who always chimes in for ideas/input.  What can I do to encourage others to speak up in the meetings more?

A: Often times more reserved people tend to want to think about things and feel put on the spot to come up with feedback in the moment.  Here are some things you could try:

Agenda:  You can send an agenda ahead of your meetings with things that you want to discuss and decisions or input that you will need.  That gives your reserved team members some advance notice and time to prepare a response that they might be more comfortable sharing.  If they are painfully shy, you could also consider asking for input ahead of the meeting and then summarize all the input during the meeting. 

Turn and Learn:  This came from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead book.  This is where you pose a question to the team, have each team member write an answer and then count to 3 and have everyone flip over their answer so no one’s answer is influenced by the more outgoing people in the room. 

Say More:  You can poll the team for an answer and if you only get a word or two in response, ask the person who responded to “say more” about their idea. 

Silence:  Be patient.  Ask a question, and wait.  If you know you have one team member who will chime in, ask for his/her response first and then ask to hear from someone else – and then – sit in silence till someone else volunteers.  Silence may seem like it goes on forever, but I doubt you will get to a full 60 seconds before someone else speaks up. 

Lastly, you may want to talk to your team and let them know how much you value their input and the ideas and solutions that come from hearing from everyone.  You can even ask them what works best for them to feel comfortable sharing ideas.  

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