Working with others isn’t easy.

The challenges:

  • No one shares the exact same values, beliefs, opinions and preferences as you
  • What’s important to you isn’t important to everyone around you
  • What matters to you and what matters to everyone else changes over time
  • Our personal lives are inextricably connected to our working lives

Consider a team that’s struggling with high turnover, interpersonal tension and poor morale and management decided it was best not to talk about what’s going on and how people are feeling. It’s not hard to imagine that these issues would continue to undermine the team and their work.

Consider an alternative: A team that regularly ‘checks-in’, where staff and management come together to share their hopes, fears, beliefs, values, and struggles with one another.

If psychological safety is one of the most important factors underlying effective teamwork (and I believe it is), checking-in helps us learn to show up, be seen and see people for who they are and who they hope to be.

I have the privilege to work with a team that checks-in monthly at the beginning of our team meetings. During our first check-in, I cried while sharing some challenges I was experiencing – and so did other people. Being vulnerable felt excruciatingly painful, but as I’ve discovered it’s what connects us to one another and to our work.

Being courageous and empathetic are skills – as are being respectful, trustworthy and boundaried. If we want to do great and meaningful work (which most of us do) we cannot continue working together wearing protective shields.

We can’t see other people unless we’re brave enough to be seen.