“And?” I asked.
“And, the ops manager spoke up,” Deana continued. “He said he was sorry he had been so defensive, and that he had been so secretive about the project schedule.
“It was funny, the ops manager spoke for himself. And, when he spoke for himself, you could see the tension in the room relax. It was still intense, but the team went into problem solving mode.”
“No one rolled their eyes at this point?” I smiled.
“No, it was like something came over the team. Something shifted. In that moment, they stopped avoiding the problem and started solving the problem. They went from non-work mode to work mode. In non-work mode, they were in a trance, unconscious. They were talking in pairs outside the meeting, talking about each other behind our collective backs. There was collusion, a revolt was brewing. Worse, the problem was untouchable.”
“And what was the problem?” I asked.
“It had nothing to do with the schedule,” Deana nodded. “It had to do with the team.”
“And, what made the shift?”
Deana had to think through the chain of events. “Part of it was persistence. I knew the problem was still there, we just couldn’t talk about it. But, I talked about it anyway. And you made me speak only for myself.
“And, when I put the issue back out on the table, the team went right back into panic mode. Bob rolled his eyes. When I told him how it made me feel, that was the shift. The issue was on the table and it was going to stay there. No rolling of the eyes, no sarcastic remark was going to move the issue off the table. Even my manager didn’t dare shut down the discussion. This team was going to dig in and deal with it. That shift took about five seconds. Everything changed.”
“And your manager?”
“Yes, my manager,” Deana smiled again. “My manager was afraid the discussion would blow the team apart. Turns out, it welded the team together.”