Drowning Teams need space for taking a deep breath

Polish word for: “we are drowning”, is: “toniemy”. Polish words for: “it’s not us”, are: “to nie my”. It striked me recently, when we discussed issues on our project way. Someone said: “To nie my” and I heard: “Toniemy”. It touched me and stayed with me for a long time after the meeting ended. I was thinking, what can I do if I hear: “We are drowning!” to avoid either finger pointing (“It’s not us, it’s you!”) or running away in panic and leaving alone people calling for help. Another day (it looks sometimes like coincidence rules my life) I had a chance to talk about the impact the change has had on our life and the “drowning” feeling came back to me immediately. And I realized that what we need and what people around us need is safety which gives the space to take a deep breath and slowly start over. Safety to hear and say: “you can try”. Safety to hear and say: “you can change”. Safety to hear and say: “it’s ok to fail and make mistakes”. Safety to say and hear: “it was me, but I accept these lessons and use it to move forward”. Following Joshua Kerievsky’s Modern Agile principle: “Safety is both a basic human need and a key to unlocking high performance” (by: http://modernagile.org/). Also from the manager’s perspective, when natural reactions tend to switch to the “blaming protocol”, thinking about protecting the team from drowning rather than looking for the culprit, gives time and space for a handful hand. Keep safe.

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