Your Team’s Next Conversation

Published: September 20, 2016

Without exception, every team has work to do. Whether fixing something broken or fueling an opportunity, there is a conversation needed to move things forward. We all know which conversations are most important. It’s usually the ones that are awkward and sensitive. It’s often the issue not being discussed that fills the atmosphere with tension. Here are a few of the most common team conversations waiting to be initiated:

Norms: “I know we’ve always done it this way in the past. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider.”

Diversity: “If I was experiencing your circumstances, I might better understand your perspective. Can you help me see this issue from your vantage point?”

Respect: “Something you said in the meeting was unintentionally insulting. May I share with you how I heard your comment?”

Accountability: “I trusted the commitment we agreed to. Can you help me understand what changed?”

Gratitude: “In case it hasn’t been clear through my actions, I’d like to tell you how much I appreciate your contribution to our team.”

Growth & Change: “We’ve been wrestling with this problem for a long time. Are we going to stay stuck or move forward?”

These are the types of exchanges we imagine having with our teammates but have trouble initiating. It’s easier to keep it in your head than to be responsible for the consequences of voicing a concern and entering a dialogue. Ground rules help. As long as everyone commits to being mature, respectful, and professional, the awkwardness of elevating a sensitive topic is softened. What are your two or three most pressing conversations? What’s your plan for moving them forward?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.