THE most common team-related challenge that I hear about from my clients is “people don’t speak up.” One client called this “false harmony,” and identified it as one of the top reasons that his team was struggling to meet its goals.
You know how it works. When people disagree with what you’re saying, they don’t speak up.
When there’s conflict between team members or departments or site locations, people don’t speak up.
When there’s a problem with the work, or the timeline, or the budget….you got it, people don’t speak up.
Instead, there’s the “meeting after the meeting.” Over lunch, during breaks, or in the privacy of their own offices, people will say, “can you believe what he said?” or “that idea will never work,” or “what are those idiots doing over there?”
There are lots of reasons why this common dynamic happens – lack of trust, fear of negative consequences, and a lack of skill in directly communicating tough messages are a just a few. Whatever the reasons, though, the fact that it happens at all is a huge drag on team performance. When team members (including the leader) aren’t able to skillfully share what they’re really thinking, a whole host of negative consequences result:
Clearly, people not speaking up is a problem – for teams, for leaders, and for organizational results.
So, what can you do about it? How do you avoid the “meeting after the meeting” syndrome? If you lead (or belong to) a team and believe people aren’t speaking up, here are some suggestions for action steps.
Action Steps: Avoiding the “Meeting After the Meeting”
What has been your experience with “meetings after the meeting?” What has worked well to break the pattern? Let me know in the comments below!