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  • David Hajdu

“Why Won’t My Team Talk To Me?” - HBR helped me figure it out

In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, change is a constant companion. About a year ago, an experienced team member observed that I seemed different—less engaged with the team compared to earlier times. This feedback, from someone who had been with me through multiple ventures, made me reflect deeply.

Change is indeed one of the most thrilling yet challenging aspects of growth. I recall an insightful moment when John Keister, one of our early investors, shared a profound piece of advice with our team:

“In a startup, if you come to work every day prepared for change, you won't be surprised.”

As our team grew, the circle of daily interactions became smaller, and it was easy to see why people might feel I had changed. They were right. To bridge this gap, I initiated a weekly Happy Hour, where seven randomly selected team members and I would go out for drinks. This Western tradition resonated well with our mission to “Make employees happier.”

Initially, these gatherings were successful. They were fun, insightful, and a great way to explore local spots with enticing offers. However, enthusiasm waned over time, and participation dwindled. Puzzled, I realized we needed a different approach. We surveyed the team, and the results were enlightening:

  • Many team members had family commitments, making evening events challenging.

  • Leaving work early for social events was difficult.

  • Preferences varied, with many favoring activities other than bar outings.

Recognizing this, I experimented with in-house happy hours where I bartended. While these events were well-attended, they lacked the intimate setting needed for meaningful conversations. Determined to find a better way to connect, I stumbled upon an insightful HBR article by Megan Reitz and John Higgins, shared by a friend. It resonated deeply with my situation.

Key Insights from HBR

If you don't have time to read it, here are a few meta points:

Consider the phrase “My door is always open.” It contains a number of assumptions. First, people should meet you on your territory, rather than the other way around. Second, you have the luxury of a door. Third, you can choose when to close or open it.

Just this statement alone is so profound. How often do we forget what it's like to walk in the shoes of others? I love this quote as well:

Sam Goldwyn, the legendary American film producer, referred to this when he famously said: “I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job.”

How scary is that if you're an employee?

Here are the five areas the authors suggest you look at:

1. Genuine Interest: Are you honestly interested in other people’s opinions?
2. Risk Awareness: Do you understand the risks people perceive in speaking up?
3. Political Dynamics: How aware are you of the political game being played?
4. Label Awareness: What labels do people apply to you, and what labels do you apply to others that define the rules of what can be said?
5. Enabling Speech: What specifically do you need to do and say to enable others to speak?

I have so little to add to the wealth of information in this article that I'll close with this quote from the author:

If you are wondering why others aren’t speaking up more, first ask yourself how you are inadvertently silencing them.

Embracing Change and Leveraging AI

These insights prompted a shift in my approach. Instead of expecting the team to come to me, I began meeting them in their spaces and on their terms. This change fostered a more open, trusting environment, aligning with our core values at Talent Edge.

Incorporating AI-powered tools into our talent management strategy has also played a pivotal role in enhancing communication and efficiency. AI-driven insights help us understand team dynamics better, predict potential issues, and tailor our approaches to individual needs.

Our Commitment to Connection

At Talent Edge, we believe in the power of connection and open communication. By adapting our leadership style, embracing change, and leveraging AI, we can create a more inclusive, engaging workplace. This journey has reinforced the importance of staying connected with our team, understanding their needs, and continuously evolving to foster a supportive company culture.

Contact us today to infuse AI-powered talent management and open communication into your company culture. Let's create a more connected and efficient workplace together! Reach us on WhatsApp at +84 90 9958581.

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