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Recognizing quiet contributors on your team – part 1

Arielle Gordis 8 min read
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Workplace trends

The share of U.S. working moms has reached a record high

The share of American women in the workforce is at a record high, with the surge unexpectedly being led by mothers of young children, according to a recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Expansions of paid leave and child care subsidies that started during the pandemic, the tight labor market making jobs more attractive, and pandemic-induced cultural shifts that pushed women to invest more of their time into their careers have certainly played a role. However, the most influential driver of this change for parents, researchers say, has been remote work for office jobs, and the flexibility about when and where work gets done. Today, 77.7% of women 25 to 54 are employed, and larger shares of mothers of preschool and school-age children are working now than just before the pandemic.

Jobless youth in China are turning to hostels

With a record number of Chinese graduates currently jobless, hostels have become refuges for young people trying to land jobs in major cities. Costing just a few dollars a night, these hostels have become a necessity for many applicants due to the hyper-competitive nature of China’s white-collar job market and the fact that the most desirable opportunities are still concentrated in a few megacities like Shanghai or Shenzhen. With the number of university graduates across the country ballooning, candidates who are unwilling to travel for interviews and cover their own expenses are often immediately dismissed. And as the Chinese economy continues to slow, competition has grown even stiffer. Some young people who have landed jobs are paid so little that they cannot afford deposits on long-term leases or are afraid to sign for fear of suddenly being laid off.

The AI corner

Will Microsoft’s Copilot transform your business operations?

Microsoft has started rolling out the next major update to its Windows 11 PC operating system, which contains a chatbot called Copilot. The ChatGPT-powered tool is a smart assistant intended to save time by automating tasks within the Microsoft 365 suite, like turning Word documents into PowerPoint presentations, drafting email responses, crafting meeting summaries, and more. Businesses interested in adding Copilot to their current Microsoft 365 subscriptions must buy a minimum of 300 user licenses, costing $30 each, on top of the existing subscription fees of $36 and $57 (respectively) per person per month. Microsoft is the first to integrate ChatGPT’s technology into its popular business software product, and by the end of 2024, Forrest estimates that nearly 7 million U.S. knowledge workers could be using it.

There’s international effort to regulate AI

At the first global AI Safety Summit last week, hosted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, 28 governments, including the U.S. and China, agreed on the need for international cooperation and signed a document called the Bletchley Declaration, which warns of the dangers posed by the most advanced AI systems. The document laid out the risks but apparently fell short in setting specific policy goals, which is why a second meeting is scheduled to be held in six months in South Korea and a third six months later in France. For now, many governments are moving forward with their own laws and regulations – the U.S. released an executive order requiring A.I. companies to assess national security risks before making their technology public; the EU’s AI Act is being finalized to protect citizens from harm; and China is cracking down on AI usage and chatbot censorship.

Recognizing quiet contributors on your team - part 1


End-of-year performance reviews are just around the corner, which is why it’s time to take a step back and consider what strong performance means within your team and organization. As a leader, it’s often easy to assume that those on your team who are most assertive, outgoing, and confident are also the most collaborative and productive, but in reality, quieter employees can often be among the greatest assets to the team.

Whether they’re more introverted in nature, new joiners, or simply more junior and thus less comfortable speaking up, some of your most essential contributors will not be the ones who actively voice their ideas in group brainstorming sessions or take credit for their direct impact. That’s why, in order to make all of your employees feel recognized, effectively assess performance, and retain key talent, you need to know how to adapt your management style and evaluation methods to each employee.

How to effectively manage quiet performers:

Identify the driver

Do your best to understand the reasoning for why an employee is more quiet. As noted above, it could be because they’re more introverted, but it could also very well be due to a lack of confidence to speak up – whether because they’re new, more junior, or simply less secure. In these cases, it’s important to make an active effort to connect with them one on one and emphasize how much you value their input. With 70% of the variance in team engagement determined solely by the manager, per Gallup research, you can significantly influence your team members’ sense of comfort and self-assurance by making it clear that they are on the team for a reason and that you truly value their perspectives. Emphasize that their newness to the team or role can actually provide really useful insights that others with more experience under their belt may tend to overlook.

Ask for input

Your employees may have different needs in terms of how they like to receive feedback, recognition, and support, so do your best not to implement a one-size-fits-all approach. Most of the time, when you ask individual workers how you can help them feel heard and supported, they’ll have valuable input to share. That being said, these kinds of conversations can be intimidating, especially for more quiet performers, which is why it’s important to give your team members a heads up. Send a message letting your employee know that you’re interested in hearing how they’d like to receive your feedback and support, and allow them to share their thoughts in whatever way feels most comfortable – whether it’s a one-on-one conversation or a private message. Doing so will ensure you get honest guidance from your team members and can adapt your management style to fit their personal needs.

Share the mic

When you’re in group meetings or larger team settings, try to encourage more outspoken team members to share the mic. This could be simply by taking opportunities to ask if anyone else has something to share or by keeping an eye out for those who seem engaged but hesitant to speak up. Before calling on them, try to make eye contact and message them privately to check in. Additionally, for brainstorming sessions or team projects, try to break the group up a bit so that there are fewer voices and contributors working together at a given time. This way, quieter employees will have more space to speak up and can feel more comfortable sharing their ideas.

Spotlight contributions

It’s a lot easier to give credit and recognition when your employee is vocal about their contributions. However, quieter employees may be less prone to publicizing their own achievements and results, which means it’s not always obvious how much value they’re bringing. That’s why, in one-on-one meetings, it’s so important to directly ask your team members to walk you through projects they’re working on and the parts of their work of which they feel most proud and excited. Then, after getting their permission to do so, try to spotlight their impact and personal successes in larger forums so that their work can be acknowledged and celebrated by others.

Get feedback

Once a quarter or so, try to schedule one-on-one meetings with each of your team members to get feedback on what’s working and where you could offer additional support. In these conversations, be intentional about asking questions and not dominating the conversation, so that even your more quiet or introverted team members can feel they have the space to share. Taking the time to get their input and responding accordingly is the best way to make all of your team members, even your quiet contributors, feel heard.

Water cooler chatter

Mouse embryos grew in space, signaling that we may be closer to living and multiplying on other planets. For the first time, astronauts successfully developed the embryos while onboard the International Space Station, which scientists say is a hopeful indication that bigger mammals might be able to reproduce off-Earth.

“Gravity did not affect initial differentiation of mammalian embryos."
Scientists and Researchers, Japan Aerospace Space Agency and the University of Yamanashi

Elon Musk has just unveiled Grok, an AI chatbot with a ‘rebellious streak’. Built by his AI company xAI, Musk says the new bot will bring a sense of humor and sarcasm that rivals like ChatGPT don’t seem to offer. Grok is still in early testing and not available to the general public yet.

“Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so please don’t use it if you hate humor!”
xAI team

Question of the week

Last week’s answer: India

This week’s question: Which two companies have more than one million employees?

Just for laughs

Recognizing quiet contributors on your team 8211 part 1
Arielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at When she’s not busy writing, you can find her walking outside for hours on end or planning her next travel adventure.

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