Why Do We Chicken Out?

By: David Lunzmann

Have you ever sat in a meeting with peers and leaders prepared to share a few new ideas but ended up remaining silent? Why do we chicken out?

Is silence the standard in meetings you attend? Is your company suggestion box always empty? The hard truth is that about half of employees don’t share their thoughts and ideas.  Many of the best ideas are then lost and unable to be heard by those that really need to hear them.

Employees need to see that their voice matters and their thoughts have an impact. The following are a few steps to help you foster an open and encouraging work environment:

  • Share your vision for a meeting in advance; let attendees know they will be asked for their thoughts, ideas and opinions.
  • Recognize that reluctance to speak could be because doing so in the past may have back fired.
  • Create a space of safety where all are free to share their thoughts without fear of being shut down or judged.
  • Discuss how the employee’s ideas will be acted on; assign responsibility and a timeline for the group to reconnect.
  • Be open to having others critic YOUR ideas.
  • Provide guidance; pull aside someone being disrespectful of others and explain that all thoughts are welcome and should be accepted in a professional way.
  • Ask open questions so you can gather even more suggestions from your team.

When employees feel free to share their thoughts and ideas, they will also be more engaged in their work place culture and success. Disengaged employees often don’t understand how they fit into the company future or where their employer is headed. The rewards of an engaged team member simply cannot be denied.