Addressing Sensitive Issues in Your Team

Addressing sensitive issues on your team can be a scary thing – and unfortunately many choose to navigate around or simply avoid them all together.  But doing so will continue to negatively impact the culture, break down trust among the team, and ultimately impede on forward growth and reaching your desired goals.  Intervention early on is key – building awareness and creating a safe harbor within the organization that amplifies it’s not only ok to have these conversations - but it’s encouraged and supported in a judgement free environment.  It sends a strong message the people, their ideas and feelings, are valued.

  • Start with Awareness – Are you noticing poor teamwork? Continually having to redirect the conversation?  Are there team dynamics, such as missing deadlines, that indicate stress among the group?  Identifying these areas can sometimes be more of an art than a science, but measuring your experience against your expectations is a good place to start identifying potential conflict.
  • It Takes a Village – While team leadership bares the initial responsibility of setting a tone to address conflict, team members are also responsible for engaging in the tough conversations.  Each person has a responsibility to address concerns and engage in active listening.  Often times issues arise through miscommunication or other unintentional breakdown; regardless though, feelings should always be validated and addressed to promote healing through the change process.  Leaders that establish an atmosphere of paying attention to what’s transpiring in the group and provide an exploratory environment to engage in honest dialogue, will shape a culture that supports team engagement and development.
  • Establish the Game Rules – As you develop a sense of awareness and openness, be intentional of the process.  Require that dialogue remains respectful – avoid inflammatory language and stay aware of the level of intensity.  Take a break, step back and then re-engage when necessary.  And don’t forget to address the impact – how the specific issue is effecting individuals and the team as a whole. 

Addressing team issues can feel daunting, but continually promoting an environment to do so will transform your culture to address issues early and promote a feeling of safety, mutual respect, and team collaboration.

Written by Shalyn Eyer