Karin’s Leadership Articles

This technique will get your team talking about hopes and fears.

You want to get your team talking about their concerns, but if they’re like so many of the employees in our courageous cultures research, they are likely holding back.

In fact, 40% of the employees in our research said they lacked the confidence to share their ideas that would improve the business. It’s even more difficult to talk about sensitive issues like mental health or what’s next for them during this new abnormal.

Courageous Cultures Fear of Speaking UpThis FOSU (fear of speaking up) could be preventing you from serving them well and creating employee engagement, particularly when it comes to culture change.

The Easiest Way to Get Your Team Talking About Their Concerns: Reduce the Friction

One of my favorite techniques to get employees to share what’s on their hearts and minds is what we call a “fear forage.” This is a way for employees to anonymously share their hopes and fears in a way that creates psychological safety.

We discovered this technique by accident in one of our in-person strategic innovation workshops. And, we now use it frequently in our live-online training programs using anonymous polls in our Let’s Grow Leaders Learning Lab to quickly gather hopes and fears and talk about the themes.

Learn more in this popular Asking for a Friend episode.

(Don’t worry, I’m not yet hanging out in unmasked crowds in-person keynotes —this one was filmed before everyone suddenly had to work from home). But, we are heading out to speak and do a C-level forum at a conference in May.

More Ways to Encourage Your Team To Share What’s On Their Minds

“If I Were You I Might Be Wondering …”

If you want your team to get your team talking about difficult issues, here are a few ways you can start the conversation.

  • If I were you, I might be wondering …
  • The last time something like this happened I had a lot of questions such as __________.
  • I just read this blog post about how to get your team talking about difficult issues, and it made me wonder, what questions do you have that I might be able to answer?

This reduces the friction because you’re asking the question first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a conversation this way and seen a palpable sigh of relief that someone was finally talking about the tough stuff.

More Questions Your Team Might Be Afraid to Ask

Lately, I’ve been asking employees what questions they would ask their boss if they weren’t afraid.

Here a just a few. All perfect questions to get your team talking by starting with  “If I were you I might be wondering …”

If I were you I might be wondering…

  1. Why are we doing it this way?
  2. How’s our company really doing?
  3. Why didn’t you ask us?
  4. Why is _____________ not dealt with?
  5. If I speak up, will it hurt my brand?
  6. Do you think I’m ready for a promotion?
  7. Why is there so much turnover?
  8. How can we get past this feeling of constant crises?
  9. Is this really as urgent as you’re making it out to be?
  10. What would you add?

Your turn.

What are your favorite techniques to encourage employees to get your team talking about what’s on their hearts and minds?Strategic Leadership and Team Innovation Programs

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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