Here are our top tips on how to create an environment where your team can feel free to share their ideas and thoughts about work:
Listening is a skill. It is much more than just allowing the other person time to talk. It is about hearing what they are trying to communicate. Try repeating back what the other person has said in your own words and check “is this what you are saying?”
Some people are more introverted than others. The more extravert members of the team may be noisier, but they aren’t necessarily wiser. Find ways to draw out the views of the quieter members of your team, even if this works best one-to-one.
Ask people for their views, their opinions and their insights. Often people sit on their thoughts as they are not confident they will be valued, or indeed if they are of value. Explicitly asking creates the opportunity for sharing.
Sometimes you may receive feedback that you find challenging. Try to not be defensive. Instead, say that you will consider what they have said and come back to them. Time and space will allow you to be more objective.
If someone has a good idea and it doesn't cost much in terms of resources, then just do it. Implementing an employee's idea builds trust which will inspire others to share their ideas too.