3 Reasons You’re Hesitant to Ask for Team Input

by Wire Tech

Import from people-equation.com

For years, I’ve counseled leaders that “people will support that which they helped to create.” And although getting input from employees is one of the surest ways to increase a new idea’s success, many leaders don’t do so. Why not? I polled readers and discovered some interesting viewpoints. The next time you ask your team for input, consider if any of these barriers are getting in your way, and then work to overcome them.

Does your organization have a hero complex?

One possible reason you may not ask for employees’ opinions is that you work in a culture that doesn’t support it. Organizational psychologist Thomas Waterhouse observed that some organizations have cultures that, “organize their energy and their world in such a way that [leaders must] always be seen as ‘heroes.’ Having arrived at any position of influence, they surround themselves with supporters, and they don’t ask for critical feedback since at the core of their being, it would be too painful to hear of faults or weaknesses.”

Do you plan to DO anything with the input?

Here’s a cynical, but valid take from HR professional Deirdre Honner, who finds leadership requests for input to be disingenuous. She writes, “I find some of the best ideas, resources and input are from those NOT in leadership positions. But they don’t get heard or even acknowledged. The request is made for show, they have no intention of seriously considering the input and don’t even read the ideas. They use it to ‘make employees feel like part of the process.’ And employees see through the smokescreen. So it’s easier to just not ask.”

Honner also points to a certain leadership hubris, observing that leadership thinks they know all the answers and prefer to keep the status quo because it’s less confrontation and less work.

Does asking for input leave you feeling trapped in a no-win situation?

Here’s a spot-on observation from a seasoned executive Ken Trupke:

“I believe that leaders WANT to listen. They KNOW everyone has something important to contribute. They KNOW that they’ll find the REAL problems, get better solutions to those problems, and get buy-in to implement the solutions if they listen and get input. But often leaders fail (or are reluctant) to ask for input because they think they’ll be obligated to PERSONALLY resolve every issue that’s raised. They know that that will be ineffective, distracting, and demoralizing to them and the organization.

They remember that the last time they asked, they were deluged with issues ranging from important to petty and felt an obligation to deal equally with each one (everyone’s input is important, right?). They remember how overwhelming and time-consuming it was to try to get through everything.

They also remember that the 80/20 rule turned into the “95/5 rule” and not only did they spend nearly all their time on the unimportant, in the end, the people with those issues weren’t even happy with the help. So they’d rather not travel that path again.

Now this is obviously a false dichotomy. The choices are not, ‘listen and be overwhelmed/ineffective,’ OR ‘don’t listen.’ But leaders need to be comfortable that they have a plan to listen AND effectively deal with what they hear.”

Tips for gathering feedback that is useful and won’t wear you out

The thread I see from each of the reader’s comments is “caring”– either too much about one’s own “self” or about being the problem solver or about one’s image. In each case, the “care” is being applied in a way that’s not helpful to the situation. So here are a few tips for the correct way to gain input from your team members.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be the hero. You can swim upstream in a hero-based organizational culture. Think of it this way: by asking for input, you are crowdsourcing the best that your team has to offer. It’s still up to you to synthesize the information and make it palatable for the key decision makers in your company, which is also a valuable contribution.

Set expectations about what you’ll do with the feedback. Let people know what you intend to do with the information. You can say something like, “I’m casting a wide net right now to get the most information possible. We will eventually have to narrow our choices, so know that not all things will make the cut.”

Think about how you’re inviting others into the conversation. Are you inadvertently shutting down discussions? Here are four tips for getting the ball rolling.

Sometimes, silence is the best option. Start the conversation, then learn to shut up.

Once the decision is made, explain why some choices weren’t implemented. Say, “We ended up going with option XYZ. While we couldn’t implement option ABC, we were very interested in ‘part A’ of that plan and we’re looking into finding a way to make that a reality. Thanks for looking at our options creatively and pushing the boundaries.”

People loved to be asked for their opinion. It costs nothing and potentially pays huge dividends. Sure, you’ll get your naysayers and it does take longer to build consensus. But you’ll also get some grass-root advocates from the get-go, which all the money in the world can’t buy you.

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The post 3 Reasons You’re Hesitant to Ask for Team Input appeared first on People Equation.

Original Article Published at People Equation

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