How to know what your teammates feel when they do not want to open up?

Because some Filipinos do possess the trait of being averse to confrontation, a lot of organizations end up having employees who have developed a thread of discontent along the way. It leads them to be unproductive and they drag the energy of the whole organization with them. The sad part is, managers and leaders sometimes don’t have an idea such discontent or discomfort exists, or how it even began. They will just be surprised with a sudden resignation or a poisonous office gossip.

So how do we address this culture of Filipinos of being non-confrontational? This “no it’s okay” attitude? This “let’s not talk about it, so we won’t fight” resort?

As a team leader in a government office, I have been experiencing such issue. And earlier today, I was finally able to tackle it.

I initiated a survey among the members of the team. I asked them questions related to the conduciveness of the workplace, comfortability with other team members, issues of discrimination and equality (given that the team is culturally and religiously diverse), compensation and benefit, security, their likes and dislikes, and things they want to change. It is a fifteen item survey aimed to get to know how my teammates feel. 

While it is very reassuring to know that the results yielded to positive feedback and a positive satisfaction rate, it was also very interesting to know that some team members are feeling things which we thought all along are non issues.

I was also surprised (but welcomed it as a positive development) to know their stance and opinion on matters of respecting each others rights, religion, culture and practice. 

The best thing is, I got to know that while they feel that they are undercompensated, they still are inspired and motivated to come to work everyday because they love what they are doing, and they see their job as an opportunity to learn. 

In the end we were able to come up with action plans to address issues and to make the overall working experience better moving forward. 

If you are interested to do the same, you may want to see how we did it below:

1. Read on books and articles about workplace satisfaction. Understand the principles and philosophies attached to it. That way you will feel good about doing it yourself because you fully comprehend the idea behind it. 

2. Search for sample survey forms from companies that has a similar nature as ours.

3. Develop questions that are easy to understand. Avoid complex questions. Be direct to the point. Make sure the words you use are words they would understand even without asking someone or referring to a dictionary.

4. Provide an incentive for a hundred percent turnout. Remember that it is human nature to respond to incentives. 

5. Discuss results with them. Do not make your analysis and interpretation. Make them do it instead. 

6. Facilitate the discussion. Avoid preaching and teaching. Let them talk and just do the listening, but keep the conversation alive and dynamic by asking questions for them to talk about.

7. Record their responses, suggestions and comments.

8. Decide on action points for things that needed to be addressed. 

At first I was really reluctant and apprehensive. But I just have to find the courage to let them open up before attrition happens. 

As leaders, we are responsible in making sure our teammates are happy, and that they feel that their happiness matters! 

I hope you guys will find this useful. 

Thank you! Peace out!

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