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Getting Thais to speak out in meetings

As a facilitator that regularly runs sessions in Thailand, I have first-hand knowledge and experience of the common issues that organizations face. One of the key challenges for Thai and expat managers a like is engaging teams effectively in meetings. A common observation is that Thai employees tend to be reserved and are often fearful of sharing their ideas when called upon. Very often meetings are information updates and directives given by managers rather than collaborative dialogues and discussions between managers and team members. It is a common occurrence that when managers ask for input or feedback, it is followed by a daunting silence or simple comments that support leadership ideas. Team members don’t want to step out of the comfort zone to challenge ideas or give their thoughts or opinions.

One might argue that these behaviors are a result of the education system and the cultural tendency to avoid conflict and maintain the status quo. As I facilitator my focus is on how we can support Thai teams to share their voice, ideas, and feelings to develop and support both individuals and organizations alike.

I would like to share some quick tips on how managers in Thailand can increase employee engagement by empowering teams to speak out and share their ideas in meetings.

1) Set regular times for ideation to solve problems and develop the business

Build time into the schedule specifically for ideation and sharing. Give it some importance.

2) Create a safe environment and context for sharing.

People will only share if they feel it is safe to do so. Create a culture of openness and acceptance towards giving ideas.

3) Give people time to develop their confidence to speak out.

Don’t expect results over night. Positively reinforce individuals that share their feelings and ideas.

4) Allow and encourage diverse ideas and expression.

Avoid finger pointing, judging and blaming. Let ideas flow!

5) Listen and implement ideas that are generated

People feel motivated and engaged when they are listened to. If you want commitments from your team, show them that you value their input. Take action on ideas shared.

If we can support your team to develop and grow, please let us know by contacting us through our website at

Writer: Paul Marks, Managing Director of Change Works Ltd.

team engagement
team engagement