Motivating the Silent but Valuable Team Member

So, you work with a colleague, team member who does not communicate well but is very smart and valuable to your team. You have tried to talk to this person, and they agree with your observations, but show no change. Frustrating, isn’t it?  From our 30 years of research, we have identified this type of person as an intellectually focused and strategic long term thinker. Let’s call this person evidence-based. No matter what you say, unless it is supported by evidence, you won’t see change in the person. They believe that “seeing is believing,” “Talk is cheap,” “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” Therefore, your communication plan must be in writing and be based on fact, not conjecture, and must be viewed as credible and logical. Part of your recommendations is for them to think and be asking “how” questions. Thus giving them the starting point they need to embrace the change to begin actively communicating. Motivating the Silent but Valuable Team Member Eliminate your opinion, reduce your talking / emotional pleas, don’t offer short term fixes, and be able to set a written long term program that includes a process and protocol. In other words, your help has to have structure and rules, not just random written fix it. example: after each major topic, “I expect to hear your view.” “Talk to me about the most important areas we should focus on.” This evidence-based person is a perpetual student trying to learn more about what interests them. Let them talk about their interests and try to match these interests to the discussion at hand. They respond well to words like see, appears, clear, vision, look. Use these words when talking. The most important feature for any discussion is their view of the “quality” of the solution. This evidence-based person is always learning, which creates a slow-cautious decision-making process. They always feel as though they never have all the information needed to make the decision. This is the main reason they keep quiet. They don’t want to appear stupid. Be aware that they flow at their own pace, justifies failures, and keeps non-favorable info to self. Their motto is, “I must keep my intellectual image intact.” This evidence-based person doesn’t want to be wrong and wants to be viewed as the most intelligent person in the room. Don’t destroy their intellectual image, or they won’t trust you. The evidence-based person needs additional time to digest materials and info. 

Needs possession of info, which makes them feel in control. Proceeds with a timetable to” do it right “first / implementation second. To summarize, evidence-based people respond well to written goals, objectives, timelines, and a definition of what success looks like. Your communication plan for them should include them learning new things and allowing them to be the source for credible info. Taking a communication lead with information and data for the team contributes to their communication success.  


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