20. How To Get Employees To Say What They Really Mean


How do I get my team member's to say what they are really thinking?
This is a question I get asked often by leaders from all types of organisations. This is a challenge for anyone.
However, there are ways a leader can facilitate this behaviour. This short video I explain how you can create an environment that encourages team members to say what they really think in a way that is constructive and beneficial to the team.


How do I get my team member's to say what they are really thinking?

Hi welcome. Today's session's around about and this is a series of questions that people or leaders have asked me and various organisations and there's a bit of a trend and I thought it'd be helpful if I was to answer some of those questions in these brief video bites.

So, the first question that I get asked often is how do I get my team members to say what they're really thinking?

 Now, that's a challenge for anyone to do but there are ways that we create an environment as leaders where we can actually help facilitate that. So, one of the things I recommend and one of the models that we recommend is what call our triangle relationship model and that is it's based on safe, vulnerable and purpose.


So, essentially, think of it as a triangle made up of three components and the first one is safety, so people have to feel safe and that's physical safety yes, but also emotional safety. If we feel safe to say and behave in a natural manner, then we're more likely to be open when we communicate with others and we know this through those that we've built close relationships outside of work. Same can happen inside of work. So, that's one component that must be in place.


The next one is being prepared to be vulnerable. So, this is essential for the leader in this case to lead the way. Vulnerable means, in this context, about you don't have to, as the leader, have all of the answers. In fact, sometimes it's counterproductive to have all the answers. It's better to seek the answers and coach them out of those that are approaching you. So, it's also about you don't have to have all the answers, you don't have to actually know, be open to asking others and also be open to saying I don't know, I don't have all the answers or can we work together on this? Create that collegiate-type of culture that you want your team to thrive in.

Clear Purpose

And the last and most important I guess is you must have a clear purpose. Unless you have a clear purpose for the team to rally around so that they feel involved and connected to and commit to, then you're probably never gonna get people to be really open.

Now, what I've observed is if you have those three major components in place, people will begin to debate with you, so that's not necessarily a bad thing because out of that debate comes the best ideas. So, I remember Colin Powell when he was leading the U.S. Army, he would say to his senior staff, is when we're planning and pulling together our campaigns, I want you to challenge, challenge, challenge and then we'll get the best plan we can and then when we're on the field out there doing it, I don't want anybody coming along saying I wish we had or we could have or shouldn't have. Do it now in this room and that's what I encourage teams to do. Have the debate up front, then lock in the plan and then deliver on the plan. So, if you wanna get people talking about this, you need to create this environment first. That's step one.

So, if you look at Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team, you'll see that in the bottom of his pyramid, in other words, the pyramid building to the top, he actually says trust is absolutely essential. If you don't have trust, you can't really get to the next steps on the pyramids. So, develop the trust and then people will begin to engage. Now, the other clue or other tip of course is when people say things or challenge you, it's how you as a leader respond will determine whether they know you're serious about being open and vulnerable and clear on delivering the purpose.

So, go out there, give it a go, this is very low risk and a lot of rewards if you get it right.

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