Amplify other voices (video transcript)

Your third responsibility as a team member is to amplify other voices. You have a responsibility, not only to add your full value, but to make sure others can add theirs too.

When I work with teams, I can tell very quickly whether or not they’re a healthy, productive group. I can tell by how balanced the participation is. Teams tend to have a majority and a minority on almost any dimension you can think of. Newer and older members, introverts and extroverts, corporate people versus the line. Teams tend to be unbalanced. That causes teams to have very skewed discussions.

It’s a team full of line people, and there’s only one person bringing the corporate perspective, or it’s a team full of corporate people and only one person is bringing the line perspective. On these teams, too many people think alike.

Drowning out minority voices means losing the value that they could add. It’ll make your team less innovative because the majority represents the status quo. It’ll also miss that chance to see risk because you’re seeing things from a different perspective.

Here’s some ways that you can amplify other voices.

#1 – Everyone gets a turn

Make sure that they have a chance to speak. If someone’s been shut out of a discussion, when you get the floor, hand it over to them.

#2 – Don’t allow blockers

Another important thing, when somebody in the majority downplays or belittles that minority point, you need to counteract that. You can ask a question or use something to keep the conversation going.

#3 – Use the agenda

You can also use the agenda to help you. If things tend to get put last on the agenda and left off because you don’t have time, ask that they be moved up to make sure you talk about them while everyone still has energy.

If you want the advanced challenge, do any one of those things in a situation where you disagree with the person. You’ll find that loaning your credibility to less powerful members of your team will have lasting effects. Their confidence will grow and you won’t have to provide as much support for long.

In the short term, it might make discussions more difficult because there’ll be more diversity. In the long run, it will make your team more innovative, more aware of risk, it’ll even improve your relationships along the way. When you change the way you deal with minority points of view, you’ll change your team.

More on this

Don’t overpower your team

Support Effective Decision-Making When You’re Not in Charge

Why Promoting Diversity is Hard for Teams