Recently while facilitating a session for an medium sized NFP to move their projects forward, and working through the team’s suggestions, I noticed Justine* was sitting quietly at the end of the conference table looking down at her note pad and not participating.
When planning for these sessions, Justine had told me how pleased she was that the organisation had decided to get serious about some issues she thought had been ignored for too long. Justine had ideas on how they could be fixed.
The enthusiastic lady I had met a few days ago was now completely quiet. Some great ideas were going up but none from Justine. During a break I asked her if everything was ok, because I was looking forward to hearing her ideas and opinions during the day, and she hadn’t contributed anything.
Justine confided in me that the organisation had held some of these types of sessions in the past, and she had been made to look stupid because others had laughed at her ideas. She couldn’t understand why as she was an avid reader of industry news and some of the innovations that were being rolled out in other organisations were “amazing”.
It also meant that her company would soon be left behind, and that worried her.
When we returned after the break I announced to the group that we should go around the room and give everyone the opportunity to share what they knew about industry trends. Some great information emerged and Justine had the opportunity to share her insights.
We documented all the trends we knew about, and attempted to map them back to current strategies and initiatives. Justine shared some great information that afternoon, and later confided in me that when she was hired that is exactly what she thought her job would encompass.
I encouraged her to try and be courageous in the future and share her opinions openly.
We often forget the reasons we hire people in the first place. The unique skills and experience that attracted Justine to the organisation had been forgotten. Her individual ability to analyse information and see the big picture had been ignored because she was seen as not being dynamic.
After re connecting with the CEO recently it appeared that most of those ideas from the sessions were adopted, and the organisation was well placed to thrive in the current marketplace.
*Not her real name