Have team members suddenly stopped complaining? (That may not be a good sign.)

Musing for:

Have team members suddenly stopped complaining?

“I’m doing the best I can. Why can’t they just cut me some slack?”

Suddenly, they stop asking for things or pointing out problems.

Leadership feels so much more comfortable.

But you’re now in more danger than ever before.

Unless you’ve managed to actually address the challenges your team faces, a sudden silence of criticism usually means one of a handful of things. And none of them are very good.

1️⃣ If you’ve reacted strongly to their previous feedback, they may have decided to stop sharing it with you. If that’s the case, your team has lost its Psychological Safety, and you’re unlikely to get a clear picture of what’s really happening from now on.

2️⃣ If they’ve repeatedly brought the same issue to you and it remains unresolved, they may have given up. Rather than acceptance, their silence may be a sign of resignation – to the conditions at the moment, and possibly to the company very soon.

3️⃣ If you’ve been denying repeated requests for what they consider a reasonable change, they may have started plotting a “malicious compliance” scheme to force your hand or trigger your failure.

How can you prevent these from happening?

💡 Be grateful for feedback and accept it with grace, even when it’s delivered poorly, and even when you don’t agree with it.

💡 When requests can’t be honored immediately, help the team understand the business drivers that get in the way. Invite their creativity to find an alternative or compromise. Share the progress of projects that take a while to deliver.

💡 Be open to reconsider things you may consider a “best practice.” Understand the purpose, conditions and context in which those practices were created. Evaluate whether the original purpose still carries the same value it once did. If it does, invite the team to propose alternatives that accomplish the purpose under your current conditions and context.

When you show grace to those who complain, when you take their requests seriously, you invite them to continue giving you the information you need to keep your team successful.

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