How To SUCCESSFULLY Manage Shy Team Members

The workplace is often a combative place to be – there are those team members who are very confident, possibly brash and outspoken, those that are highly confident and who seem to weather any storm – but there are also those who bring a lot of skill and expertise to the party but who are often quiet, shy and possibly a little on the fringes of things.

They bring a lot of skill and knowledge BUT they need careful management so that they stay are contribute to their fullest potential.

Perhaps the following pointers might be a guise worth considering:

  1. Establish why the team member has a shy persona – are you sure there is not an underlying reason why that person does not easily speak out or is reluctant to get more directly involved in the workload? What does your Supervision records/6 monthly and annual Appraisals tell you? Have there been any changes in the team member recently? Make sure that you spend quality time finding out the real reason and act accordingly.
  2. Shyness need not be a problem if they prefer to just “get on with it” and they produce good quality work. Each team needs someone to make things happen and to sort out processed and procedures that then drive forward output. Be satisfied that this is the case with your particular team member.
  3. What does a Belbin Team Role Assessment tell you about your individual and the team as a whole? Does this person fit into roles that are more process-driven than those that are more dynamic and visible? If there is a mismatch here investigate as a matter of urgency.
  4. Ensure that all team members are present at meetings, events and functions so that, although not perhaps as visual and vocal as others, they are seen as integral to the big picture and an important part of the mechanics of the team.
  5. Draw out their personal strengths to allow them to fully contribute to the work of the team. Just as the most vocal and confident team member will gladly seize the initiative and drive forward establish exactly what the shy member of the group can contribute and deliver.
  6. Use communication carefully and sympathetically. Often shy team members will prefer email as a communication medium rather than joining in with group discussions and noisy meetings. Respect this but use it wisely to ensure that, although quiet, they are still fully involved.
  7. Discuss issues with them regularly and carefully. Always check out and validate your understanding of the situation.
  8. Get regular and timely feedback from the team member – just as you would do with all team members regardless of their social and communication skills.

There is a widely-held perception in business that to progress and “get on” you have to be bold, brash and very confident. This is not so – personal success is most definitely NOT all about being assertive and noisy!

Good Luck!


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