How do I encourage a quiet staff member to speak up and take credit for their work?
Q: I am responsible for managing two junior staff members at an advertising firm. They work on projects together but have their own specific tasks to carry out. When it comes to presenting their work to myself and my superiors, one of the members has a habit of hogging the limelight and claiming credit for all the ideas. How can I encourage the other team member to speak up more in meetings and inspire some confidence in them?
A: This is a very common issue in almost every organisation. It is not always noticed or addressed so you have already taken the first positive step in acknowledging the need to address it.
It is very important that an employee is getting the full credit for the hard work that they are putting into these projects and it can lead to issues down the road if they don't feel as if they are getting the credit. If this continues to happen, the individual may feel they are not being valued.
This can lead to a drop in their engagement, which will inevitably have a significant impact on their productivity. It is also important that the employee is getting the exposure to management that can be critical to their future career progression opportunities within an organisation.
From an organisation's point of view, it is crucial to know who is responsible for these ideas to ensure they manage and nurture this talent going forward.
There are a number of ways in which you can address this issue in a structured way, which will benefit both the individual and the organisation.
1 Investigate: You may want to have a discussion with the individual involved to investigate if this issue is being driven by their fear of presenting, or perhaps they may be lacking confidence around the ideas they are presenting on. Alternatively, they may simply be pushed aside by a stronger personality, so a soft discussion on how they feel about these presentations will guide you on your next steps. It is important to approach this softly, perhaps as a tag-on to another meeting.
Ensure that it is more of a chat on how they feel about presenting rather than making a major issue out of it, as you do not want the employee's confidence hit by highlighting this.
2 Structure the process, create a platform: To give the employee more experience in presenting and to build their confidence, you may need to structure the process. Have them present every second time, or alternatively, have both team members share and split the presentation to ensure their time and exposure to management is equal. Whilst this may not be necessary in the long term, it might help them to build confidence if there is a platform in place to support them initially.
3 Encourage: Before the presentations, go out of your way to ensure the employee knows the ideas they are bringing to the table are strong and they should be proud to stand over these. It may be worth discussing the nerves and fear of presenting that you felt when you started and how experience builds confidence. During these meetings, prepare questions around these ideas and how they were born, to encourage the employee who created them to step into the limelight.
4 Coach: Work with the individual on the structure and delivery of presentations to ensure they are communicating the ideas effectively and highlighting their individual creativity behind them.
5 Praise: After each presentation, it is important to discuss the positives of both the ideas and the presenting and how the delivery came across to the audience. An employee lacking in confidence may have seen it very differently to you.
6 Nurture going forward: For junior staff members, having nerves and being a little anxious before presentations is natural but it gets easier every time you do it. Evidence builds confidence, so every time you do it, you become that bit more comfortable. There is nothing more gratifying as a manager to see a junior employee making that step, believing in themselves and beginning to realise their real potential; potential they may not have realised they even had in the first place.
Rory Walsh is Cork Regional Manager at Collins McNicholas Recruitment and HR Services Group, which has offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Athlone and Limerick.
Sunday Indo Business