Talking About Team Performance

Addressing sensitive subjects like someone’s weight, political affiliations or religion are topics that most of us treed delicately around. Cautious to not offend, apprehensive about what direction the resulting conversation may go and anxious about how much we’re comfortable sharing are usually enough red flags for your brain to seal your lips shut. Just talking about the weather is so much easier.

Project teams tend to have a similar discomfort when it comes to talking about performance.
Wouldn’t you agree?  

This topic has many of the same attributes as the conversations above, but a lot more is at stake. Unfortunately, the fact that we don’t  engage in these types of discussions very often is precisely why these complex conversations SEEM so dangerous. Like any skill – practice  builds confidence and expertise.

I’ve been experimenting over the past few months by talking politics and religion with a wider group of friends and colleagues to see if I can develop a strategy that makes the initial conversations simple and easy. The result has been a very rewarding experience to gain new perspectives in how others see the world and a more in depth understanding of my own assumptions and prejudices that have developed over time.

I’ve been relating this experience back to my work with project teams so you can start having more meaningful conversation about performance without the long term heartburn or headache that usually follows…

  • START SMALL – Ask simple questions that allow us to explore personal perspectives in a short amount of time
  • DON’T JUDGE – quiet the voice in your head that’s evaluating “right or wrong” and replace it with “interesting, tell me more”
  • WHAT’S WORKING – focus your attention to find the “golden nuggets” that might apply to your current project situation
  • BUILD TRUST – invest early and often leads to a profitable ROI

This week we’ll explore the team performance conversation from different angles and leverage several tools to make small, significant steps that will lead to production dialog on the essential conversation. I challenge you to do one small experiment daily to put an idea into action.

Today’s Challenge: Ask a person about one successful team story while keeping these four points in mind. Share a story from your past too.

I’m looking forward to exploring how we can make talking about team performance as easy as the weather.

  Jeff Richardson

Transformational Engineer & Project Consultant
at Project Connections and Empowered Alliances
(650) 269-5395


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