The Fear in Contribution

“Does anyone have any ideas about how we can solve this problem?” Wayne asked. The team just sat there, staring at him with lizard eyes, fixated, motionless. Sure, it was Wednesday (hump day), but the atmosphere was limp.

It was like throwing a party where no one shows up. You think you have done your job as a manager, assembling the troops to solve a problem, but you get no response from the team.

It’s not lethargy and your people are not stupid. I find the biggest problem is fear. Fear that their idea will be seen as inadequate or silly.

Prime the pump. Simple solution. Pair everyone up. Have team members work two by two for a brief period of time (brief, like 45 seconds), then reconvene the group. Working in pairs takes the fear out. People can try on their thoughts in the privacy of a twosome before exposing the idea to the group. Primes the pump every time.

2 thoughts on “The Fear in Contribution

  1. Marcos Luiz Bruno

    I think that there are two dimensions in any group or team dynamics: the explicit and implicit dimensions. The first deal with data, numbers, objective things, deadlines, resources, etc. The second has to do with feelings, social role inside the group, some shyness, some level of aggressiveness in the relationships, etc… This dimension is difficult to be addressed by managers. But when these underlying issues are ‘put on the table’ the team will be able to grow as a team and as persons, besides addressing the explicit problems with much more enthusiasm.

  2. Edward Burke

    Brilliant idea. I like your previous posts in putting the idea to the group and don’t panic yourself since you don’t know if there will be an answer. In pairs this will take the fear out of the leader and the members and start the environment of candor and speaking up!
    Well done!


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