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Avoiding Group Negativity

Negative-toned messaging to a group can be demoralizing.


One of my former coaches had very little to say when asked what I needed to do to be better for our team. I had nothing actionable to strive toward. Yet the same coach was unhappy with our team’s performance, so he shared his frustrations with the entire team, with a loud voice and a heavy hand, feeling that may motivate us to our potential. But it didn’t work. We blamed each other. We got worse. We disliked our coach. We disliked each other. We didn’t understand the direction of the team and how we each fit in.


Leaders are responsible for providing one-on-one feedback. Many managers do not feel comfortable giving direct constructive feedback in a one-on-one conversations, so instead these managers share their frustrations to their teams in a group setting. Discussing short-comings with a group versus with the individuals who need it can disrupt morale even when that wasn’t the intention.


Maybe most of the team is falling short. As a manager, it can seem more time-efficient to have the same conversation with everyone at the same time. But it’s rare that the under-performers are falling short for same reasons. It’s important to help those falling short understand what they can adjust to meet and exceed expectations, and that isn’t a "one size fits all" done among one’s peers.


In a negative-toned group meeting, team members may struggle to understand what is being directed at them, and struggle to feel the space to ask for clarification.


The result? Even leaving the meeting, each person may not fully understand the "why" surrounding a decision, the go-forward expectation and their specific areas for improvement.


Group settings are not the time for managers to let out frustrations, especially if individual conversations have not been had prior. Maybe that group meeting isn’t even needed.



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