Are the values of equality and diversity aspired to in your organisation? If they are, can they be improved upon?
Whilst there are many ways we can seek to action this, they all start in the same place and that is with our thinking.
Systems Breed Behaviours
To achieve this in everyday communications – be it in one-to-ones, informal group discussions or formal meetings – having a system that allows for equality in terms of equal chance to contribute and by doing this it all ramps up diversity of thinking, rather than it being just the usual suspects that speak loudest, most often and by hogging the air space.
This is why you hear us say at red10 that:
Systems breed Behaviours
Behaviours breed Systems.
In a previous article about the Team Tool: Popcorn, I described a system to bring people in when working in groups.
Ways in which you can do this
- Bringing In One Person
The most straightforward is noticing that someone who has not been contributing using their name at the start of the sentence and asking what they think about the topic in discussion, “Karen, what are your thoughts about this?”
- Spin Round
Being more systematic could then mean asking the others who have not yet contributed the same question. Taken it further yet would mean completing an entire round having asked everyone what they think, one person at a time.
- Ask By Grouping
Other ways to bring in may be by function e.g. “What about those of you from Digital…what are your thoughts?”
Or by level of involvement or importance, e.g. “Team A, you will be going live first, what are your most important steps to take?”
It may also be that you have some people that you are uncertain of that they think on the matter in hand or that you are concerned that they may be withholding through cynicism or silent dissent. This sounds like an ideal situation in which to bring in, after all if you really do value diversity and equality it makes sense that you understand and have awareness of the full spectrum of the thought.
- Using a Team Tool like Fist-5
A very quick way to bring everyone in, and seek spread of opinion, is the Team Tool: Fist-5
Everyone Has A Voice and an Opportunity
‘Bringing In’ creates an environment that everyone has a voice and the opportunity to contribute even if what they have to say is not the most popular of opinions.
It also avoids the possibility of malicious obedience where you get people staying silent or nodding in the meeting bit then leaving to take out actions that they are not truly bought into or in support of.
Sometimes, people tend not to contribute in meetings or conversations out of a lack of confidence or shyness and therefore you may be unsure of bringing them in. Try starting out with something they are sure to be knowledgeable about, or even have a chat with them ahead of the meeting. Let them know you will bring them in and what it is in particular you are looking for input on.
Building a Culture of ‘Bringing In’
Having a culture of bringing in creates the expectation that if you are at the table in the first place it is because you have something to contribute and that is not going to be left to chance by that limiting often untrue assumption, that if people are not speaking up they don’t have anything to say.
What would it be like to come away from your next meeting with the certainty that everyone had said what they wanted?
I dare you make it your personal challenge for your next meeting, conversation or entire day to bring people in and ask them what they think……