I have a team who resists communicating with me…until they reach the 11th hour crisis. What is your advice for increasing the communication and avoiding the crisis?
This is not an uncommon issue. My guess is that people are being rewarded in some way for staying silent. It could be a group norm (we’ve always done it this way, or she doesn’t want to know) or it could simply be delaying being the bearer of bad news in the hope that something will change and all will turn out okay after all.
The only effective long-term solution is to change the culture in the team. Unfortunately, this will not happen overnight.
First, sit down with the team and have a discussion about how this team fits into the larger team of the entire organization. Be sure to highlight the company’s values and belief systems, especially those that are relevant to the issue. Remember, having a discussion means that you are talking no more than 30% of the time.
Next, based on this discussion, or perhaps as part of this discussion, identify and implement a way to provide positive feedback for people who come forward with group challenges in a timely fashion. Especially consider methods that reward the entire group for even a single person’s action.
Finally, follow through. If you don’t react as promised when the group comes to you with challenges, even if they are later than you would have liked, you will make it more difficult for them to try again. Consistent reward and education should lead to the results you desire over time.
One additional bit of advice: if there is one individual who is dominating the group, you will need to win this person over to see your desired results. If this is not possible you may want to consider removing them from the team.
Good luck and have a great day!
PS Just a reminder that we are here if you would like to make this discussion a facilitated discussion. Sometimes being a part of the discussion rather than the leader can make all the difference.