Navigating Team Friction by Lara Hogan

  1. Storming. This is when we start to see some friction. This is necessary.
  2. Norming. Things start to iron themselves out.
  3. Performing. Now you’re in the flow state and you’re shipping.

Brains

The Hulk gets angry. This is human. We transform into different versions of ourselves when we are overcome by our emotions.

  1. Improvement/Progress. Progress towards purpose, improving the lives of others. We need to feel that we do matters, and that we are learning.
  2. Choice. Flexibility, autonomy, decision-making. The power to make decisions over your own work.
  3. Equality/Fairness. Access to resources and information; equal reciprocity. We have an inherent desire for fairness.
  4. Predictability. Resources, time, direction future challenges. We don’t like too many surprises …but we don’t like too much routine either. We want a balance.
  5. Significance. Status, visibility, recognition. We want to feel important. Being assigned to a project you think is useless feels awful.

Desk Moves

Lara has seen the largest displays of human emotion during something as small as moving desks. When you’re asked to move your desk, your core need of “Belonging” may be threatened. Or it may be a surprise that disrupts the core need of “Improvement/Progress.” If a desk move is dictated to you, it feels like “Choice” is threatened. The move may feel like it favours some people over others, threatening “Equality/Fairness.” The “Predictability” core need may be threatened by an unexpected desk move. If the desk move feels like a demotion, your core need of “Significance” will be threatened.

  1. Avoidance. Avoiding the problem; too busy to help with the situation.
  2. Fighting. People create arguments against the decision. They’ll use any logic they can. Or they simply refuse.
  3. Bonding. Finding someone else who is also threatened and grouping together.
  4. Escape-route. Avoiding the threat by leaving the company.
  • I wanted to get your take on X. What might go wrong? What do you think might be good about it?
  • What feels most upsetting about this?

Communication ✨

Listen with compassion, kindness, and awareness.

  • Elevate the conversation. Meet transparency with responsibility.
  • Assume best intentions. Remember the prime directive of agile. Practice empathy. Ask yourself what else is going on for this person in their life.
  • Listen to learn. Stay genuinely curious. This is really hard. Remember your goal is to understand, not make judgement. Prepare to be surprised when you walk into a room. Operate under the assumption that you don’t have the whole story. Be willing to have your mind changed …no, be excited to have your mind changed!

Feedback

Mindful communication won’t solve all your problems. There are times when you’ll have to give actionable feedback. The problem is that humans are bad at giving feedback, and we’re really bad at receiving feedback. We actively avoid feedback. Sometimes we try to give constructive feedback in a compliment sandwich — don’t do that.

Prevention

Talking one-on-one is the best way to avoid team friction.

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Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith

A web developer and author living and working in Brighton, England. Everything I post on Medium is a copy — the originals are on my own website, adactio.com