You might become aware of a change in team dynamics when team members begin acting subtly different towards each other. Or perhaps you notice that some members are holding whispered mini-meetings and others are pouting and feeling left out. Or it come to your attention that the old team isn’t what it used to be when you hear the screaming down the hall and you discover the two people involved are people you thought were good friends who respected each other.At some point there comes a time when every team needs to have a ‘clearing of the air’. This is especially true for teams that work closely together for a long time.
Holding a session to get things out in the open and discuss and resolve them is a good idea. Doing so without careful preparation and a set of guidelines is downright dangerous.
While going through some files recently I came across a set of guidelines I developed for facilitating a team’s feedback session. These guidelines really helped make the session successful and it occurred to me that it might prove helpful to those of you who wish to conduct a team feedback session.
This simple guide sets out tenets for the session and provides suggested “ground rules”. I suggest you revise these as needed to fit and meet the particular team’s needs.
If you do use these, we’d love to hear how your session went.
- We recognize that -
- We do great work together.
- We all have talents and strengths.
- We all do things that prove challenging to our colleagues.
- This is about improving our working relationship and becoming an even stronger team!
- All members will have ‘done their homework’ (and will have given careful thought to what they wish to present to the others.)
- Any/all relevant topics are to be considered/included.
- One person speaks at a time.
- Topics will be discussed until they are completely presented and considered, while respecting time constrains. (As we recognize that is dangerous/irresponsible to provide comments and NOT complete the discussion)
- If a ‘time out’ is requested/required, by whomever and for whatever reason, we will take a break. (amount of time TBD)
- All aspects of the session are confidential will not to be discussed with others outside the session.
- Be open and receptive (be aware of body language)
- Listen – rater than just hearing the high level and formulating a rebuttal (Respond with “Yes! And…” rather than “But…”)
- Ask questions to clarify/help understanding.
- Present relevant information
- Avoid defending/justifying your position. It is not necessary. (If this happens, first person to realize it should call it)
When you are providing feedback
- Be positive.
- Be respectful (be aware of tone of voice, body language, words used, emotions, etc.)
- Be sensitive to other’s feelings.
- Be candid, open and honest (clarity and directness being more important than the avoidance of hurt feelings.)
- Provide specific, relevant examples if possible.
- Avoid personal attacks/assumptions as to what’s behind behaviors, etc. (Stick with the facts/ feelings)
- Speak in the ‘I’ rather than the ‘You’. (Use I feel, I think, I need, – rather than the ‘You did… You are… You think… etc.)
- Offer suggestions for improvement, from your perspective. (i.e.; ‘It would be helpful to me if you…)