6 Steps To Help You Weather Conflict On Your Team

Kristin's team was a few weeks into the season. Things were going well so far and yet she sensed an undercurrent of tension after morning practice. She hadn't 'heard' anything negative...she just had a 'sense'.

Then she got a text from her team captain to confirm something was definitely up...thank GOD!

At least she had her guard up before Nell (one of her freshmen) walked into her office and promptly burst into tears.

All teams (and any group) cycle through the stages of group development:

  1. Forming

  2. Storming

  3. Norming

  4. Performing

During the forming stage, your athletes are looking for ways to belong and connect. As a coach, this is when you’ll want to build trust and set boundaries - so people feel safe.

Storming begins when people assert themselves and try to stand out. When it happens, this CAN be great. To become a high performing team and reach your true potential your team needs to storm. Tuckman's theory of team development seems simple enough to comprehend.  It's not always so easy - in practice.

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A powerful tool to facilitate hard conversations

An important element to building a team is creating an environment where constructive conversations can happen. How can you foster an environment where:

  • people voice opinions without the fear of being judged, criticized or excluded?
  • people have different opinions and respect one another in the end?

No matter what age group you work with - from kids to adults - this takes real work!

First, it requires a certain level of trust within your group. People need to feel like they can trust their teammates before they will even begin to speak up and not feel threatened.

Next, once you have established that foundation of trust, it helps to give people the tools - or even the words - to have difficult conversations. It's powerful to model what that looks like and give them the words to use.

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Teach your athletes to have hard conversations

An important element to building a team is creating an environment where constructive conversations can happen. How can you foster an environment where:

  • people can voice their opinions without the fear of being judged, criticized, or excluded

  • people can have different opinions and respect one another in the end

No matter what age group you work with - from kids to adults - this can take some work!

First, it requires a certain level of trust within your group. People need to feel like they can trust their teammates before they will speak up and not feel threatened.

Next, once you have established that foundation of trust, it helps to give people the tools - or even the words - to have difficult conversations.  Sometimes you actually have to model what that looks like.

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