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The 10 Best Ways To Get Employees Or Team Members To Speak Up At Meetings

The 10 Best Ways To Get Employees Or Team Members To Speak Up At Meetings

How can you get employees or team members to speak up at meetings and briefings? There seem to be built in defence mechanisms which lead to people walking on eggshells around authority figures. Enlightened managers know that this is wrong and complain that they are not getting the ideas and feedback to complete projects successfully. Here are 10 ways to get round the problem.

1. Give employees advance warnings of new proposals or procedures

Nobody likes to be taken by surprise and asked to speak about it something he or she hasn’t prepared for. Many managers make the mistake of introducing a new plan or idea or policy without any warning. Of course, employees are reluctant to speak because they have not had time to think about it. They naturally fear that there may be consequences for them when speaking in an improvised way.

2. Don’t let silence fester

In other situations, managers may find that there is a worrying period of time from when problems arise to when they are finally aired. Usually, the delay may be due to some or all of the following:

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  • Fear of being blamed
  • Worry about losing a bonus
  • Scared of being seen as overcritical of management
  • Afraid of criticizing current practice
  • Passing the buck or brushing the matter under the carpet.

The key to getting things out in the open is suggested in the bestselling book by Joseph Grenny, Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High. He recommends using a technique in which the team members know when they can be totally open. The manager can use a term like ‘frank conversation’ or ‘crucial conversation’ to signpost that this is about to happen. It can be on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting, whichever is most appropriate. Team members should feel secure when they contribute with their ideas and feedback.

3. Don’t dominate the discussion

When managers were observed chairing meetings, many of them fell into the trap of talking far too much. When they asked for feedback, they made the mistake of immediately giving their own views on the issue which of course discouraged everybody else. Participants may actually feel that as the boss has answered his own question, there is nothing left for them to say!

4. Ask precise questions

Asking team members what they think of a new product or changed customer service procedures may get a stony silence. It is much better to use precise questions such as the following to get the discussion going:

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  • What can we do to improve safety standards?
  • What incentives can we offer to gain more customer feedback?
  • In what ways can we simplify the accounting procedures?

5. Take ideas on board

If the boss or manager regularly shoots down new ideas for improving products or customer service, then silence will reign. Employees will feel snubbed and worse still, demoralized. A much better approach is to take the idea on board. The LCS approach is one of the best I know:

  • L- stands for what you like about the idea or suggestion.
  • C- stands for some concerns that might make it less profitable or impractical
  • S – represents suggestions for dealing with the concerns or issues that might arise.

6. Give credit for suggestions

Usually, having a list of action points from a meeting is a good way to get things down on paper. It also gives space to acknowledge the originator of a new suggestion or proposal for improving a certain procedure.

7. Ask each member to contribute

I hated this at the management meetings we had every week. The director would always go round the table and ask each member for their views on a problem, reporting on a successful event or anything else. If you are shy, like me, you will know that this can be agony.

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But managers can make it easier by using eye contact effectively. Nodding in the person’s direction can encourage the shyest of people. Empathizing and making comments which show that the manager has actually listened and rewording it are all ways of encouraging people to speak up. Using the person’s name is also helpful. Ask other members if they have felt the same way about an issue or had a similar problem with implementing a new procedure.

8. Encourage them to think of long term success

Building a great company depends on superb teamwork. An integral part of that is making sure that your employees’ feedback is being used to give the best service possible for your clients. That guarantees the success of the company and secures their own jobs. This is why contributing and talking openly at meetings is crucial. Make sure that progress towards achievement of goals is regularly logged and updated.

9. Don’t call too many meetings

It is all very well getting feedback but calling too many meetings is a sure way to kill that valuable process. If the meetings are badly organized and do not follow a set agenda or time limit, then you are wasting valuable resources and time. A good question to ask yourself is what would happen if we do not have this meeting? If the answer is ‘nothing’, then do not bother having it. An email may be more effective.

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10. Don’t discourage dissent

Many managers try to get people to agree to things as soon as they can. The point to note here is that when there are diverging views, this actually generates more discussion. It can lead to better problem-solving. Managers can also play devil’s advocate to stimulate even more discussion. It is a great way of drawing hesitant participants out and getting everyone involved.

Let us know what your techniques are for getting people to speak up at your meetings.

Featured photo credit: Client Meetings at Dynamic Signal/ Jim Larrison via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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