How to manage sensitive issues in a team – What is the magic recipe?

Have we ever wondered how to handle and deal with a sensitive issue with our teams? How do we bring our observations that certain set of folks always like to dominate the discussions in all teams? How do we talk about the teleconferences always scheduled at the time which is most convenient to the Onsite team or where the management of the team is positioned? How do we mention that the team is caught in the group thinking mode and agreeing to poorly conceived decisions for the sake of team harmony?

In your role as a team member or the leader of the group, there are times when you need to bring up sensitive issues within the team, you should always begin with the self-awareness that something of relevance to the team’s functioning is occurring. You need watch and assess what you noticed and observe its impact on yourself, the other team members and team at large. You need to decide whether you should intervene or not, whether it should be dynamic? Will that be more helpful or harmful or not relevant at all.

Let’s assume you have decided to raise a sensitive, touchy issue in your team. To review how you arrived at this point, you need to pick the functioning of the team, the pattern observed. Your goal should be to get the team to explore the issue for its impact and decide what to do based on this exploration. How can we raise this issue in a way that is most likely to accomplish the goal?

Some interesting fundamentals are necessary for basic human relationship:

First talk about yourself, your feelings, your behavior, Make statements with ”I”: “I am thinking”, “I am feeling” … something on similar lines. Self-disclosing your own reaction to what’s happening is always the safest way to begin wading into potentially troubled waters.

Second, avoid using words that are pejorative, inflammatory terms, judgmental labels and generalizations, such things trigger words or phrases that flare the team members defensiveness and make it hard to respond for them to your comments.

There are 2 strategies, that I have experienced for making a decision on the level of focus and intervention. One is the “Deep end of the pool” approach. Intervene where you think the action is the hottest, if the whole team is caught in the groupthink act – supporting, agreeing and reinforcing with each other at the cost of in-depth investigating the issue on hand – jump into the deep end of the pool and say things like: “I think we are sacrificing the quality of our decisions for the sake of getting along and it makes me uncomfortable”. If you find one person dominating the discussion, it is just fine to say “Ash – it seems to me that we have been hearing mostly about your ideas on this issue, I would like to hear some of the thinking from the rest of the team”. This type of direct approach is likely to get the issue recognized and discussions going but it can’t be carried off comfortably by everyone, nor in every situation by anyone.

A different approach would be to focus where the action is less hot, the “shallow end of the pool”, once you have the team in the waters with you, you can begin to navigate them into the deeper side of the pool. You might like to create an individual focus like “Sam, I have seen you have started to something couple of times, but stopped and I am wondering if you have a different view or perspective on the issue that we are talking about”, Or the approach could be focusing on the team level directly and say “I think we need to revisit our team working agreements about how we handle conflicts between us”

Another factor to consider about raising the sensitive issue is the degree of intensity you want to build into your intervention.

Low intensity usually takes the form of carefully worded statements. This style helps to understand how an issue is dealt by the team and how they respond.

A moderate intensity usually consists of an observation followed up with a question, such intervention declares an issue and press the team to respond to it.

High intensity intervention really put pressure on the team, they usually consist of an observation and interpretation of the cause of the pattern observed. They are high intensity because they label the action with an interpretation of the underlying dynamics, their directness at times can be shocking to the team.

The point is that regardless of the type of intervention you are most comfortable with, you need to be able to effectively use all combinations, so you can match your choices to the contextual demands in the team at the time you are intervening

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Uninspired Team – Reasons why your team is not fully engaged

As a scrum master your main role is to ensure that your team stay motivated, productive and more importantly happy. It is also your job responsibility to identify what is causing them to be de-attached with the system, why are they non-responsive, what is causing them to be dis-engaged and uninspired so you can correct the situation

Inspiring teams is not about just keeping your employees happy. It’s about having well-defined roles that allow your people to advance in their jobs as well as make meaningful and useful contribution to the company goals.

Let’s explore a few reasons as to why teams might be feeling uninspired:

 

You Demand Perfection

Perfection seems like a recipe for success. But when good is no longer good enough, your team will have a hard time starting things and an even a harder time finishing them. Great leaders don’t complicate things by obsessing over every last detail. They understand that solution is to simplify things. Allow your team to choose something that they think will work and let them give it a try. If they fail, consider it as a learning experience and move on to the next assignment / project

You are not approachable

Too many times managers lock themselves in their office claiming to be busy the entire time. What they do not understand is that being approachable is essential to building inspired teams. When you’re approachable your team can comfortably discuss the latest happening with you and will not try and cover up problems once they arise. This also allows your team to share new ideas with you and they will be confident that you are open to their suggestions.

You Mirco-Manage your team

If you keep insisting on doing things your way, don’t be surprised when you team stops pushing for a change. A micro-manager is someone who holds back on delegating and focuses on minor details and discourages the team members from taking their own decisions. Micro-Management is now an old style of management and is no longer productive in trying to control all aspects of the team’s work. It hurts the team morale and productivity, and is often ranked as one of the top reasons why employees quit

You Cannot tolerate mistakes

If you want to have a creative, innovative and inspired team, you need to give them the permission to fail. If you respond to mistakes and unsuccessful ideas with disappointment or blame, your team will be de-motivated and dis-couraged. However, when you turn challenges into a learning experience, you build up the confidence of your team. Create a culture of creative confidence, which is the ability to come up with new ideas and trying them out. Change your team’s mindset from being risk-averse to being empowered to seek new ideas, thoughts and endeavours

 You Hired a wrong team  

The success of your company depends on the people you hire, if you team seems to be uninspired for good reason, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with your hiring process. It’s either that your employees are not well informed about what is expected of them or you just don’t know what you want in the hire. Successful recruitment is never an easy task. You need to look for successful patterns that have worked in the past to guide you through. Super performers are out there, but just as in good old days, you may need to do some detective work and to actively seek out the people who will turn your company from good to great

 

Servant leadership is no longer about managing and stepping back, it is all about identifying when to step back and allow the team to take the control of the situation and doing it on their own. It is all about guiding the team to do better, achieve higher altitudes.

Yes, I agree we all are humans and have a legacy approach of command and control, it is difficult to do away on day one, the old thoughts and embrace the new world, but if do not change now, we shall never change, do not expect the team to change, the change has to start from one own-self and that is difficult, but again not impossible …