Bring Out the Best in Your Quiet Team Members


We all know, love and appreciate them. The quiet folks in our organization who rarely raise a ruckus. They are reserved and sometimes hard to get to know. You might even say they are shy or introverted.

Everyone – and I do mean everyone – on your team has something to contribute! But how do you draw the best ideas out of those who would rather be on a computer than in a meeting with a bunch of extroverts?

Bruce Kasanoff, CEO of New Possible, recently shared some of his ideas on LinkedIn, on how to draw out the quieter individuals. Below is a synopsis of his article, sprinkled with some of my own ideas based on 30+ years of team-building facilitation.

  1. Listen Harder and Focus. 
    People who are outgoing and have a strong opinion about things will continue to sell their idea to management and their team. You might call them relentless, goal-orientated or just plain assertive. However, individuals who are quiet are more likely to express their opinion once and only to individuals they really trust. The key is to ask a series of questions when they bring you an idea, and pay attention to them. If they think you are distracted or uninterested, it will be harder to draw them out in the future. Being genuinely present is the key.
  2. Act on Their Feedback. 
    I always say that if you ask for someone’s opinion, prepare to act on it. Many people do not fill out surveys because they believe that organizations will not listen to the “little guy”. However, this is even more important for your shy employee. If they give you feedback, LISTEN, even if you put the initiative on the backburner for a year. You can explain why it needs to wait (budget, time, too many other items) but you believe it is important and you are glad they shared their thoughts.
  3. Give Credit How They Want to Receive it.
    Many introverted employees do not want their name on a plaque displayed in the lobby, or to be brought on stage during a corporate party. They want something else – something private – perhaps an email from the CEO, a bonus check or a gift certificate. Find out what they want and give credit quietly.If your team feels overpowered by extroverts, seek outside help. I can help your team come together through my facilitation practices. I facilitate specific leadership activities that bring out the quiet ones and encourage them to lead and speak up.

    Larry Lipman is the owner and facilitator of Fun Team Building, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Give Larry a call at 770.333.3303 to learn more about ways his organization can help yours!

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