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@mention So, I've created a team. I want everyone to feel comfortable expressing themselves. A happy team is a productive team and I want to break the ice- without getting in trouble and keeping it business oriented. I am a clown- most of the time- yet, the key is productivity. Communication is golden, silence is deadly, and laughter will keep you interested and inspired; yet, how do I not take it too far?
I don't think there is an easy or simple answer to this one, beyond "you need to understand your team members". That itself is a "suitcase" phrase - there's a lot to unpack when you open the suitcase, and you have no idea what your people have put in it until you open it!
The teams where all the members have become friends are the easiest ones to work with, even when you've got friends who don't open up (or even just don't talk) as much as others. But it's not often you find a team that's completely made up of friends.
As a team lead, I would say
All of that is framed from the point of view of a team leader. The most important thing is for everyone to feel that they are listened to.
Wherever their opinions, ideas and thoughts are on the scale from "Oh Yes, we should do that" to "Wow, that's even worse than leaving the EU, accidentally nuking Ohio, or summoning Great Cthulhu", listen to them and make the team listen too (ok, not when it's too extreme, but you get the point)
How do you stop them from feeling nervous?
You can't. But you can lead by example and demonstration. Ask other members of the team (who are more talky) to bring things up, and then moderate the conversation in ways that make it clear that everyone's voice is heard and respected. After a couple of demonstrations of that, even your quietest members will start to talk. Show them you are listening.
Nic has made some very good points about "How do I make nervous team members feel comfortable" I do not think he mentioned Listen though ;)
Seriously the take away from his points is LISTEN. We seldomly listen to people. We just hear them.
Focusing on "without getting in trouble"
I tell war stories about the silly things I done when a junior and encourage the "gobby" ones to do the same Nic I like that phrase, it is new to me:) Do this in more informal settings at the coffee station. This generally gets everyone a little more comfortable and better in formal gatherings.
I tend to cut off sentences that speak about who, good or bad. Focus on the things in front of us and analyze that "thing". How can we improve it, how did the process fail us if an error crept in. NEVER focus on who only on what. This only addresses the "without getting in trouble"
This is really tricky and all we can do is try making people equals. There are always dynamics in the team that leaders are not always aware of. Try watching how members interact.
Some of the things I always tell my team.
When people are busy they inevitably make mistakes. It is a human condition. It is important to learn from those mistakes.
Please be honest about something that is done so fixing it can be quicker. This includes fault finding RCA etc. I am going to be more irritated by someone who made a mistake only because they did not speak up and I spent time trying to solve an issue that was not there to begin with. (True story, happened a few times in my career)
>>We seldomly listen to people. We just hear them
Yes, that, yes.
Hearing people is one thing, but listening is deeper.
Both of those words are about just talking, and that's not really right here - there are other ways people want to be listened to, and the route you get the communication from should not matter.
For a couple of reasons, I prefer to write an email than pick up a 'phone. My father always picks up the 'phone. Neither of us is "right", we do what works best for us.
>>Please be honest about something that is done so fixing it can be quicker.
Oh, heck yes. I have three stories about how important it is to admit an error and join the team trying to fix it so you can at least explain it.
There are already very good points mentioned in the comments above.
In my experience, what makes shy and nervous team members speak up, is creating a friendly and failure tolerated environment. People will be more open, if they feel safe and comfortable, which is definitely the case, speaking for myself.
Icebreakers in meetings can help to empower shy people. Let me share a great experience from my former team: In our weekly team meeting, we used “Check-in” and “Check-out” questions. These questions could be random questions, either work related or private. Every week we switched the role of the moderator, so everybody got regularly the chance to ask some questions about things and opinions. The great benefit was, that we got to know each other better, which formed us to a more open-minded and collaborative team. Also, everybody got to speak up, even the shy ones, which later weren't really shy anymore. There is a saying in Germany which says "still waters are deep." After this experience, I can certainly agree to that. :D This meeting was the highlight of my week, and I am smiling thinking about this great time and the funny stories with my former colleagues. :)
@mention It's a lot to take in. I can do all of those things is business setting, yet, not in certain relationships outside of work. It's a lot to think about and I'm taking it all in.
Crack a job to break the ice .
What I do I started the conversation with shy team member by telling them any real time story then related that story to the work, while conducting scrum . I succussed most of the time . My main suggestion to you @Mia Paulin is communicate with them as much as you can ,try to communicate them and listen them , once they know that someone is there for listening they start talking and sharing thing to their team lead and or with you.
Environment is everything ,Make friendly environment you will see the difference.
One-to-one discussions work well as a starting point here in Finland, the country of silent introverts with high skills :)
Sometimes focusing on being very positive may make others close themselves to interactions if they're not feeling the same way (this is how I feel most of the time). I'd say being positive in a time is not about laughter and this and that, but the ability to listen, being really open to hearing anything and giving this message in speaking and overall mood. Ant other factor would be about the individuals themselves. Good luck!
If you're acting in a role as a conversation facilitator, try these tips:
- Pick up non-verbal cues when the speaker needs someone else to jump in to 'continue' the conversation, and act on them
- Phrase questions in an open-ended manner for others to use as springboards to continue the discussion
- Be kind! Everyone's trying their best.
Good luck, and thank you for this discussion!
It is amazing that you are taking into account the feelings of your team members during interactions. However, achieving complete unification of their comfort levels may not be possible or even necessary.
Anyhow, during one-on-one meetings, it is essential to prioritize listening. Eventually you will sense where any nervousness may originate from. In group interactions try to create a safe space for everyone, irrespective of their expressiveness.