You want everyone to feel they have a say, even when it may surface a problem, so they’ll stay.
One MD says nothing during your practice meeting to discuss a major workflow change. She’s relatively new to the practice. She is also the only black person.
You worry that something is wrong.
What would you like to happen? You want this MD to feel safe speaking and to know that the practice values her because the practice needs her.
Having a voice is critical to MDs being satisfied in the work. You want everyone to feel they have a say, even when it may surface a problem, so they’ll stay.
You also depend on this MD to support this change or it won’t work! You don't yet know what she thinks.
What can you do so she feels safe to contribute to all-hands meetings? Arrange to talk with her privately when it’s convenient for her and soon. She may be fearful. She may feel deep distress about how she has been treated in the practice. Or she may worry about voicing something negative. Speaking her with privately (at first) can build a trusting relationship. Ask her:
Tell her that it’s important to you that it works for her. Listen. Ask clarifying questions, including any underlying issues or emotions. Then summarize so she knows you heard and understand her.
Suggest you create a committee to solve any problems so that you can improve the work. This clearly communicates:
Also acknowledge what else if missing to make this a successful change for everyone. More resources? Data? Other voices? Tell her how you’ll remedy that.
End your discussion with action [see below]. Also agree on a date for a follow-up conversation about how she’s doing.
Announce a task force of at least 4 people to address this and any other concerns about making the change successful. Include her in the task force if she wants that. Set a deadline for committee recommendations for solutions.
AND: Take tasks and time off participants’ plates. No one should think that saying something will add to their workload!
Check with this colleague a few times during the committee’s work if she participates:
Why make time that you don't have for this?
A significant evidence base shows that diverse groups offer their differing experiences – geographic, military, education, problem-solving approaches, as well as race, economic, gender and sexual preference lenses, and create better solutions most of the time. Research shows in measurable terms that organizations with more diverse decision-makers create better outcomes. Interrupting and excluding Others are pervasive. The behaviors will continue unless they’re stopped. And you’ll lose valuable people.
Your actions and expectations here will improve the participation of everyone because you are communicating that everyone’s voice adds something and leads to better care decisions and better cooperation. People of all stripes will want to work with you because you listen to them and expect them to contribute.
What have you done to bring everyone into the conversation? Email me to tell me how it worked out. Nance.firstname.lastname@example.org
Edmondson, A. 2018. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth