Aid for Aid Workers Leadership Podcast podcast

A Proven Team Feedback Mechanism that Eliminates Gossip and Increases Engagement

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How open is the communication with your team?  Do they say everything that's on their mind, or are there certain things which turn into gossip and you hear second or third hand?  

From my experience, it is very rare to have a team that tells you everything.  There's always something left unsaid, that can potentially build and escalate into an issue that if unresolved can lead to staff turnover, low morale and more.

But how do we find a way to give our teams a voice that they feel comfortable with?  This is a question we asked ourselves when I worked in Timor-Leste several years ago, and the feedback mechanism we came up with became known as the SMT Plus.

The SMT Plus is a simple and yet VERY effective way to give your team a voice, and to show them you care and want to know about their concerns and challenges.  It allows staff a way for staff to speak up in a way they feel comfortable, and for you as leaders to build trust and engagement.  

In this interview with the current CRS Timor-Leste Country Manager Yane Pinto, as well as SMT member Alberto Freitas, and two staff members Helena de Jesus and Agus Ximenes, we discuss how the SMT Plus works, how it can be created and the numerous benefits that have resulted from it.

Here is a summary of some of the steps to consider as covered in this episode:

  • Four SMT Plus members - two are selected by the staff (through confidential voting) and two by the SMT 
  • Members must represent the staff - two female and two male, and balance of admin and programming, as well as a balance between more senior staff and drivers, cleaners
  • SMT Plus members once selected approach each staff and ask what concerns they want them to bring to the SMT Meeting
  • SMT Plus members rotate, and attend a quarterly SMT meeting and observe as well as provide insight to the SMT meeting around the topics brought forth
  • The issues brought forward by the SMT Plus members must represent the concerns of the broader team/staff
  • The SMT needs to show they have taken action and communicate how the issues raised by the SMT Plus members have been addressed after the meeting
  • Not only does it increase trust and engagement, but also those selected as SMT Plus members feel honored and take the responsibility seriously
  • Non-SMT members participating in the meeting can see how a SMT meeting runs and how decisions are made at the senior level
  • Keep in mind to have a translator present as needed for staff that struggle with language used by SMT
  • For more information, please contact Yane Pinto - [email protected]

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