In our team we may say that everyone has a voice and the opportunity to contribute but on reflection this may not actually be the case. This post provides 5 tips to ensure every member of the team has a meaningful way to use their voice and be heard.
- Respect different learning styles: Everyone has their own personality but also their own learning style. Some may need to take information away and mull over it before they have an opinion on it, others are able to respond immediately. If you expect everyone to respond in the same way at the same time you are discounting the different needs of the team members. Make sure you allow others to come back to you within a set time frame (day, week, fortnight) to ensure their voice is heard too.
- Avoid filling the silence: Often we fill a silence when someone talking to us pauses, which cuts them off and stops their flow. Allow others to have pauses and silences to get their thoughts ordered before they speak.
- Think outside the square: There are lots of different ways to have a discussion where every team member gets to have a voice, without allowing more confident team members to talk over those less confident. Working in pairs, writing down ideas and discussing the merits of each one, working in small groups, getting responses via email. The more you consider the needs of your team the more you can find ways to accommodate them.
- Allow others to see their voice in practice: Giving team members a voice, and using their voice are 2 different things. Team members should be able to see decisions made based on their suggestions, or their wording used in documents. This not only validates the ideas that team members have and creates a sense of belonging, but also sets a precedent for them to use their voice in the future.
- Set expectations and hold people accountable: When working in groups such as at a staff meeting there needs to be expectations around people talking over each other and these needs to be followed. If a topic is raised where lots of people have lots of opinions perhaps that is a good time to split into small groups or pairs to minimise the interruptions. Then everyone can come back with their key information to share with the group.
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