My team isn’t talking. What should I do?

by Jeffrey Richardson

“Each week I ask my team for feedback at the end of our staff meeting and each week no one has anything to say, but regularly after those meetings, I hear complaints. What more can I do?"

This is a question I hear frequently and specifically from folks serving in managerial roles (especially when the manager has less time in service than majority of the team members). In these environments, the initial response is often to assume you are doing something wrong, and that it is your management style that is the problem.

While every leader - and definitely every manager - can benefit from assessing their own leadership methodology and management style, it is just as important to assess the current state of your team, and to gather an understanding of their needs and perspectives.

Regardless of the root causes, it presents an opportunity to take a step beyond asking for feedback in creating the conditions where feedback is stimulated, desired and welcomed.

It is very possible that the barrier isn’t your style or methodology, but the barrier may be that you have team members who have not been supported in sharing their voice and perspective. It could be that they previously have not had a manger that requested feedback or they have not worked in an environment where feedback was welcomed.

Regardless of the root causes, it presents an opportunity to take a step beyond asking for feedback in creating the conditions where feedback is stimulated, desired and welcomed.

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How does one achieve that? One way is to offer coaching.

Coaching can support individuals in developing a comfort level with sharing their thoughts and perspectives with others. It can provide a safe and structured opportunity to practice having difficult conversations and giving and receiving feedback. Ongoing coaching can also provide the consistency and repetition required to develop and master new skills, tools and strategies.

While growing up, my teachers would say, “practice makes perfect.” That has continued to be true well-beyond grammar school. Giving and receiving feedback and collective problem solving takes practice. No individual or team will transform from one meeting to the next, and definitely not without support, collaboration and opportunities to practice.

If your team is not talking, try opening the lines of communication using coaching as you take steps to create an environment where they feel safe and valued. As they move beyond their individual barriers, the team will make major strides.

If you want to learn more about UP Coaching, click here.

Taylor Enders