We all know that highly productive employees bring value to a team and there are some traits they might have that won’t come as any surprise – being organised and the ability to prioritise, to name just two.  But could it also be the case that some of your most productive team members are also those who are afraid to speak up and ask questions or request help if they need it?


We don't all communicate in the same way

Some people are great team players but don’t necessarily feel that they can tell their manager they’re going to miss a deadline, for example.  It’s a breakdown in communication because, for some reason, they don’t feel able to speak out.

It isn’t an easy thing for everyone to do.  Some people are naturally more reserved, and others may have tried to speak to management in the past with what they felt was little success, so don’t feel inclined to try again in the future.  Yet, if they don’t speak to their managers, they may be failing in their tasks if they don’t know what to do next or don’t have enough help to get it done in time.


Managers need to proactively enable communication

If managers want their team members to feel comfortable speaking up, then they need to foster a culture that encourages them to do so without any fear of ridicule or retribution.  People need to know who to go to with their queries or concerns and to feel that they can raise them honestly.  Does that always seem the case with the management team in your organisation?

Being productive is often considered to be primarily about a process of getting tasks done and not as a communication issue, yet it’s important not to forget about the human elements of productivity.  Good leaders know that barriers to communication increase the opportunities for mistakes and misunderstandings to arise, which in turn can adversely affect productivity.

The next time that you have an issue with a team member who makes an error or misses a deadline, it may be worth considering whether communication barriers were a significant factor in the outcome.  If so, then you should be able to help address the issue.  This is how a manager becomes an outstanding leader.


As a manager it's down to you to identify hidden reasoning

What barriers were preventing them from speaking up?  What can be done differently in future to encourage them to raise concerns as soon as they arise?

Speaking up when required is an important communication skill for all employees but it won’t happen if the leadership within their organisation doesn’t encourage it. That’s down to you.