Organization & Leadership Consulting

Hard Lessons

The odometer on my Toyota RAV4 just clicked over the magical 100,000 mile mark. That event triggered two immediate thoughts: 1) I drive too much (LOL!); and 2) I need to get this car into the shop for its 100,000 mile check up.

That second thought came from a hard lesson years ago when I failed to take my car in for periodic maintenance as it aged. A broken belt caused catastrophic engine damage. Ouch! That really, really hurt at a time when I was super dependent on my vehicle and when I did not have much money for those unexpected repairs.

I am sure that you are much wiser than me and never had to learn that painful lesson in such dramatic fashion. And yet, most of us fail to apply that lesson to other areas of life. Periodic maintenance is important to our health, our relationships, our team functioning, and so many more areas of life.

Team Maintenance

So, let me ask, have you and your team sat down lately for a check up? Have you taken time in a meeting to honestly to talk to one another about how things are going? If not, you might be headed for a similarly expensive lesson to my car fiasco from my youth. Let me suggest the following:

  • Schedule a “team process” meeting and give yourselves enough time to work through issues.
  • At the outset, invite the team to build a list of obstacles in the way of optimal team performance.
  • As a leader, be the first to suggest what you, personally, could do better. It is imperative that you, as the leader, need to model humility and openness if you want your team to do likewise.
  • After you have your list of team performance issues, pick one and try to solve it together. You are hoping to create a little momentum here. In so doing, you will increase psychological safety and enhance team bonding.
  • Watch the body language of the individuals carefully. If there is too much silence or a lot of staring at the ceiling, you may have bigger issues than you knew about.
  • If things have been particularly uncomfortable amidst your team lately, then likely you have less psychological safety than you should. In such cases, consider engaging a neutral third-party to facilitate the session.

Insecure leaders fear holding sessions like that described above. The paradox however, is that not doing so will result in greatly reduced performance as you try to work in an environment with poor teamwork. Teams, like engines, need periodic maintenance. Let this blog post serve as your odometer trigger to schedule your team checkup as soon as possible.


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