“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.”
– Southeast Portico of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
A colleague was recently promoted and explained to me her disappointment with having been cut out of the team’s conversations. The title change seemed to have struck a nerve with some members of the team and, though she earned the role, it was a tough situation to navigate. She gave it some space and eventually discussed it in person when the opportunity presented itself during a team meeting. Feedback was accepted and expectations on the new team roles were reestablished, it’s amazing what a simple face to face conversation can resolve. I thanked her for the reminder to pause before trying to fix a situation and the value of personal conversations.
Whether working with a newly formed team or a shift in team roles, it can be difficult to find the time or interest for the team to get acquainted. A team agreement can help establish the rules of engagement and act as a guideline to set expectations. Keep in mind, these conditions will change. As in my colleague’s example, the team agreement provided an opportunity to discuss those changes, remove assumptions, and make updates to reflect reality. If the document is respected and reviewed on a regular cadence, the team has a fantastic start towards accomplishing their goals.
A retrospective, the sports equivalent of a time-out, is the perfect opportunity to review that agreement. It’s a moment to pause and assess the current state, make adjustments, and move the collective dial closer to your team’s objectives. There are, however, a few differences between a time-out and a retrospective. Time-outs require concise and effective communication from a coach over a diplomatic process that considers everyone’s thoughts and feelings (Feelings? There’s no feelings in sports!). In a retrospective, everyone’s perspective and experience must be valued. It’s important to consider how differently people process information and communicate their ideas. We should support the team’s complementary strengths not expose their weaknesses. With that in mind, I like to provide personalized engagements, supplemental retrospectives that provide a confidential space to talk through an idea before bringing it to the larger team audience. If listening helps the team stay inspired and focused, I will gladly take on that role.
So take that pause, reconsider your team’s agreement and focus on personalized conversations. It will provide a stronger understanding of expectations and the support required to get your team back into flow.