4 Ways to Encourage Positive Team Interactions on Your Project

Anyone who knows me even just a little bit, will know that I’m a chatter.

But having spent a large chunk of my project career in IT Data and Analytics, I was often surrounded by personality types who were more problem solvers than chatters.

Conversational diversity (my newly made-up term) exists in all teams, across all industries. To me this means the diversity in how and when we like to talk and share information. The range is high conversational contributors, something in the middle, and those who prefer to be left alone to get on with the work instead of talking about it.

But success depends on teams talking about it. They need to talk about it.

So, how do you encourage those closed-book personalities to open-up and contribute more to the conversation?

Building team collaboration with those who don’t want to talk

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the people in your team who want to get on with the work.

In fact, having people who want to get on with solving the problem is actually a pretty great outcome. But when you’re trying to build a team culture of collaborators who pull in the same direction, this can become a problem.

To develop a collaborative culture, you need people to, well, collaborate. And this requires people to talk to each other.

Communication plays an enormous role in collaboration and in a diverse team there will always be those who are less eager to speak up and share.

Those who don’t speak up aren’t necessarily shy.

I also want to call out the team members who don’t speak up are not necessarily shy.

In fact, there are several personality types who are very social however when it comes to their work, they have a predisposition to keeping their head down. Check out my latest Chat Time guests from The Time Fix on personality types.

Let’s be clear. I’m not saying that everyone needs to speak all the time.

But on a project, team collaboration is instrumental in identifying areas of concern, vulnerabilities, and obstacles. And when members of the team are only ever putting their head down, these vulnerabilities are not passed, which increases project risks and failure.

Creating a safe space for positive interactions to happen

The challenge for project teams, is to create a safe space and encouragement for all team members to want to share the information that will make a project succeed.

To begin with, you need to make sure you are creating the framework to harness a positive Team Chemistry, so that the entire team have the time and platform to actively contribute.

A humming team needs to understand, speak up and contribute their:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • What’s working
  • What isn’t
  • Where they need help
  • Where they see a problem.

Once you are comfortable that the team knows when to speak, who to speak to, and what to speak about you can start to focus on those who prefer to simply agree rather than sharing their opinion.

4 Ways To Encourage Positive Team Interaction on Your Project

There are 4 main reasons that people will open up and share information. Once you understand these reasons, you can turn them into ways to encourage the quieter members of your team to speak up.

#1 Create a two-way street

For anyone to open up to you there needs to be an element of give and receive.

If you want someone to share personal or professional information with you, you firstly need to practice this yourself.

There’s no point asking people to share their opinions and concerns if you are not practicing transparency and giving them all of the facts.

Sometimes this may simply be to tell people that you can’t tell them everything. Most people understand that confidentiality means they can’t always be told everything. But you should always share whatever you’re in a position to share.

People appreciate when you’re honest and upfront. Transparency is often rewarded with loyalty and trust.

#2 Build trust

Simply asking someone to share when this is not their natural instinct or preference will make them feel uncomfortable. They’ll feel as though they’re being forced, which devalues their contribution.

To truly hear from someone on their terms and in a valuable way, they need to trust that those around them have their best interest at heart.

Ways to build trust include delivering on your word, being transparent, and making sure the team member knows how to succeed and has access to what they need, to do so.

#3 Give them a reason to want to share

Discover what is of interest to them, both at work or outside of work.

Do they like to solve problems? Are they a sporty person or more a chess person? Do they volunteer their time for any causes? Do they have children or pets?

Discover where they like to spend their time and what lights them up.

#4 Allow them to feel known, valued and respected

Get to know their challenges on the job.

Find out how they go about doing their job and what can be done to support them or lighten their load.

What is their definition of success?

Understand how they make the team’s overall process better.

When team members feel known, valued and respected, they’ll be more likely to interact in a positive way with the rest of the team.

What can you do to encourage less chatty folk to contribute?

Here are some examples I often recommend to leaders which always deliver terrific results.

  • Showcase to the team and/or stakeholders, a topic that brings them satisfaction.

This could be a recent problem they have solved and how they solved it. It could be about a charity they support and how they are involved. It could be a home project they have started or completed.

This activity doesn’t need to be complicated and can be shared within a team meeting. It will provide the team and stakeholders an insight into their world and what frustrated them or lights them up and how they take action on things.

This is also a great insight for managers into how to best manage them in a way they respond to.

  • Ask how they would deal with a problem that the manager would normally address.
  • Share a lunch, coffee, or zoom call with them and discover something about them.

Show care, show an interest, and show them in their best light.

If you make the time and take an interest in the things that are of interest to someone else, they are much more likely to share their views and insights on the information you need.

This aligns to our innate human instinct to return the favour or give something in return when we feel someone has gone out of their way to do something kind and considerate for us.

When you create a project team environment that allows for positive interaction across the diversity of all the people who contribute, you’ll create an environment where project success can thrive.

Would a Team Chemistry Workshop help your project team?

If you are interested in discovering more ways of connecting to your project team, a Team Chemistry Workshop is a way to do just that.

Book a discovery call with me to explore the possibilities.

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