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Steven Wolff: How Understanding and Caring Eliminates Tension and Angst

In this episode, Richard interviews Steven Wolff. Steve is a Team Emotional Intelligence expert whose research greatly influenced Richard’s work with teams. Steven tells us how to transform angst and tension into excitement – a driving force of any successful team. When you finish listening to the episode, visit Steve’s website at https://stevenwolff.com, where you will be able to connect with him and explore his work.

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TRANSCRIPT

Richard Kasperowski:
Hello friends, and welcome back to With Great People, the podcast for high performance teams. I’m Richard Kasperowski. Our special guest today is Steve Wolff. Steve is co-author of the research on Team Emotional Intelligence, which has been very influential in my work with teams. To support this podcast, visit my website, kasperowski.com.

Richard:

Hello, Steve. It’s so good to see you.

Steven Wolff:
Good to see you.

Richard Kasperowski:
And what else could we add on to that introduction? What else can you tell us about yourself?

Steven Wolff:
What else can I tell you about myself? Just very briefly, I have two careers, basically. I started out as a hardware engineer, and then I moved over into management. Got my doctorate and started studying teams. And I’ve been doing that for like 25 years now.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. Cool. So this is the podcast about teams and high performance teams. And as you know, I’ve got this little outline we follow. And I like to ask people about the best team they were ever on in their entire life.

Richard Kasperowski:
And we’ve talked a lot together. You know what I’m talking about when I say team. It’s not necessarily a work team, it’s any group of two or more people with shared goals. What’s the best team that you were ever a member of in your life?

Steven Wolff:
So I must say that there haven’t been a lot of them, but one that comes to mind is something that I was leading about 30 years ago. It was a long, long time ago. And it was a program management team. And we were developing a new iteration of a computer. And so that’s what the team was.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. Well, tell me more. I want to know everything about this team, the computer, the people. How many people? Exactly what were you doing as this program management team? What was the work? What was the product?

Steven Wolff:
So I used to work at Prime Computer and we were developing an iteration to a product that had already been released. And it turns out that there was a couple of iterations that were happening. Mine was one, and I’ll talk a little bit more later why that’s important to understand. So this was the program management team. And it involved all the people needed to get the computer out.

Steven Wolff:
Interestingly, it included many more people than typical, because my inkling back then was the more, the merrier. And so, it was quite a large team. I forget exactly how many, but it was probably 15 or 20 people at that point in time. And I just invited everybody that I thought would make a difference to getting this product out. That’s essentially, what we were doing. And it was a pretty short project. Not as long as developing a full computer.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right.

Steven Wolff:
Anything else you’d like to know?

Richard Kasperowski:
There’s so much I want to know. Another thing I want to know is, if you took yourself back to that team and really re experienced doing that work together with those folks, what would it feel like? Or what does it feel like if you take yourself back to it? What does it feel like within yourself? And what is one word that you could use to describe that sensation?

Steven Wolff:
So, if there is one word that I would use to describe that sensation, I would call it exciting. Although, if you ask me, what does it feel like, that’s a more complex answer because the emotions are quite mixed. So there is feelings of exhilaration and excitement as things are actually getting done, and getting done a lot faster than they thought that they would be done. And I can talk a little bit more about that, as new things are being I want to say discovered.

Steven Wolff:
That’s not quite the right word, but new ways of doing things are being developed as the team is innovating how to get this thing done faster. That’s very exciting. But in the process, there’s a lot of, let’s call it tension. It’s probably concern and angst and stuff like that, that is also part of what was going on. And I know we’ll talk about it a little bit later. But I think that was actually a really critical piece to the success of the project.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right.

Steven Wolff:
In the way that, that was worked with.

Richard Kasperowski:
Angst is one of these funny words. I’m never sure exactly what it means, even when I look it up in a dictionary. When you’re saying angst, what do you mean?

Steven Wolff:
What do I mean by angst? So, let me just give you a little bit more background. So I mentioned there was two updates to this computer that were being done. The other update was scheduled to come out two months before the update that I was working on. So when I became project manager, I said, “Well, that doesn’t make any sense. Why are we going to release an update and then two months later, release another update? We need to get these all done at the same time.”

Steven Wolff:
And so I didn’t go and say, “Okay, let’s slow down the other update.” I said, “We’re going to speed up this update and we’re going to get this done at the same time as the other one.” Well, I remember the first meeting when I called everybody together. This is the epitome of what you would call angst. I call them in and they had already gotten the later release date. And I said, “We’re gonna do this two months sooner.”

Steven Wolff:
And the looks on their face, they’re like, “Well, wait a minute. We can’t do that. It’s not possible.” That’s what I call angst, that kind of concern. I don’t know if tension is the right word, but yeah.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. And I love the idea of keeping to the time rhythm of a release, and fitting as much good stuff into it as you can. Yeah.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. Well, we didn’t know anything about Agile back then, but yes.

Richard Kasperowski:
Agile was barely a seedling of an idea back then. And you had a little bit of that seedling. Yeah, that’s cool.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. So this team of program managers working on this product, that you’re building this computer, how do you know it was a great team? So first, subjectively, what was going on within you and around the team? Things that you could sense, but maybe not exactly measure?

Steven Wolff:
So at the time, what was happening was people were finding ways to get things done. People were innovating new ideas. And retrospectively, part of the way I know it’s a good team, and there’s one other team that I would say was really amazing, is I still keep in touch with the people.

Richard Kasperowski:
Yeah.

Steven Wolff:
So we were building amazing relationships in that team, as we were going through this process, which was stressful at the time. But the outcome was, we got it done earlier. It was accepted. And people are still in touch with each other. The tensions didn’t lead to broken relationships. It actually built the relationships.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. That’s so interesting. That by doing the product, by doing this project together, building this product, delivering more than you thought you could, faster than you thought you could, you built really good relationships with each other. So strong that even 30 years later, you’re still in touch with each other.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah, indeed. Yeah.

Richard Kasperowski:
You mentioned a couple of objective things, like you got it done.

Steven Wolff:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard Kasperowski:
You got it done early. What other objective senses or … Objective senses? What other measures do you have that this was a great team? What objectively empirically, that we could look at from the outside?

Steven Wolff:
That the team was a great team, beyond the accomplishment?

Richard Kasperowski:
The accomplishment itself, definitely. An objective display [crosstalk 00:10:23].

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. So I think the accomplishment of the team certainly is one indication that it was a great team. And I do think that the enduring relationships and the ability of the people on that team to work together on future products as well, I think makes it a great team.

Steven Wolff:
A lot of times, you can get a team to do something and do it quickly under a lot of stress. And people hate each other afterwards and can’t really work together. But that wasn’t really the case here. And I think that’s really an important outcome for a team. You can’t do something no matter how well it’s done and then never be able to work together again.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. So you have people who could work together again afterward. What were some of the concrete behaviors that you engaged in together, that helped make this such a great team?

Steven Wolff:
So, if I had to suggest or mention the most important one, I would call it understanding. And that was something that was throughout the whole process. And that first day, like I mentioned to you when I told them, “Oh, we’re doing this in two thirds of the time,” to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing back then. So this was not intentional.

Steven Wolff:
It was just an instinct that I realized I had at the time. So picture this meeting and I’m telling them, “Okay, we’re doing this in two thirds of the time,” and everybody is going, “Oh no, that can’t happen.” And I just said, “Okay, so who doesn’t think this could happen?” Okay.

Steven Wolff:
Somebody raises their hand. “Well, why? What is going to get in your way?” And they would say, “Well, X, Y, Z is going to get in your way.” And I’d say, “Okay, so if I can remove that and if I can do A, B, C, would you be able to get it done?” “Yeah, we probably could.” “Okay. Done. Who’s next?” And I just went around and that is what I did on that first meeting.

Steven Wolff:
And then, throughout the project, there was that understanding because we were trying to do things that weren’t done before. And so, part of the success of the project was all the people that I invited to it, as well. Because at that time, project management at Prime, it involved marketing. It involved engineering, which included hardware and software. That was pretty much it.

Steven Wolff:
It didn’t involve manufacturing. It didn’t involve the sales people. And my experience said, “We need those people.” And it turns out that manufacturing was a really key, key piece of this, because trying to get the thing into a workable box is not something you can throw over the wall later.

Steven Wolff:
And so, having that manufacturing person there was critical. And getting the people in the same room to understand each other’s concerns and issues, because without that, you just say, “Oh, those manufacturing people, they’re just a pain. They always want to do things that are easier.” [crosstalk 00:14:34].

Richard Kasperowski:
Yeah.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. That didn’t happen. And actually, one of the other things around understanding, and again, remember, this was a long time ago, and this was not an Agile project, so I think Agile people get this now. But back then, we didn’t have connection to the customer. Engineers didn’t go out into the field to understand the customer. I did. I said, “I want to go out there.” Not only that, but I did something which I still am amazed actually, they let me do.

Steven Wolff:
I printed up a set of feedback cards and I put it in the back of the cabinet. And I had the customer send me feedback cards. It was freaking amazing. And here’s just an example of what happened as a result. Back in those days, these computers, there were many computers, they would be in a very dark computer room. Computer rooms are not stereotypically dark. But when you’ve got the cabinets and the light’s not right there, you open the backdoor, you can’t see inside. And that, then-

Richard Kasperowski:
Yeah, it’s like the backdoor is a narrow wall and the light just shudders on it.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah.

Richard Kasperowski:
Yeah.

Steven Wolff:
And back then, when you looked inside the computer, you saw wires all over the place. And if you wanted to do anything, you had to unplug the wires and plug them back in. And it was a nightmare for people. And so, one of the feedback cards said, “We need a light.” Now, I said, “Yeah, that’s a really amazing idea.” And we actually got like a refrigerator light put into the cabinet.

Richard Kasperowski:
How perfect.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. And so, it was that connection and understanding the customers well. That was really, really critical.

Richard Kasperowski:
So I heard at least four concrete things that you did differently on this team, that contributed to the success. You got a really diverse group of contributors together, more different kinds of roles that people play than previously. Including people in manufacturing and all different parts of the company. You asked them what’s going to get in your way, and you took steps to get those things out of the way so that people could actually do their work and be successful at it.

Richard Kasperowski:
You went out into the field to meet with customers and ask them what they were looking for, what would help them with the product. And this feedback card idea, this is such a cool idea. I’m picturing it like, when I was a kid, you’d get the cereal box and there’s it, down through the cereal. And you pull a toy out. And it’s like there was this little treasure in the back of the computer. You’d open the door, and without even knowing that there was going to be a treasure there. There it was, a feedback card. And you got feedback from them.

Steven Wolff:
And I got feedback.

Richard Kasperowski:
And you implemented some of their ideas. How cool.

Steven Wolff:
It was cool. And actually, there’s one other thing that I didn’t mention, which turns out to be really extremely important. And it’s a finding that comes out of the research that we did on Team Emotional Intelligence many years later, as well. And that is the proactivity in getting the support. Because what I did was when I needed something to happen, I didn’t wait for the executives and the managers to solve my problem. I went out and I got the support from them, and solved the issue on my own.

Steven Wolff:
And it turns out that that’s really a super critical piece of what really highly effective teams do. And just a little bit of an aside, going to the research in the Team Emotional Intelligence, the difference between the high performing teams and the average performing teams, when we did all the research, one of the things that came out that’s not in our model and in our survey, is the external support. That’s the only thing.

Steven Wolff:
We didn’t put it in there because we did a qualitative part of the study, and what we found was all of the high performing teams, proactively, went out and got that support. And proactive problem solving is part of the model. None. None. Zero, it was incredible, of the average performing teams had any comments about doing that. Yeah. And so, we kept it in there as part of proactivity, and took it out as a separate thing because we didn’t want to give people any opportunity to play victim. “Oh, see, they’re not supporting us.”

Richard Kasperowski:
Ah, I see.

Steven Wolff:
It’s really they’re doing in the first place, by being proactive and getting that support. And I did that way back then as well.

Richard Kasperowski:
So the way you get executive support is by proactively seeking it.

Steven Wolff:
Absolutely.

Richard Kasperowski:
It’s not something that’s just gifted to you. It’s something that you go out and obtain.

Steven Wolff:
Yes, absolutely.

Richard Kasperowski:
Okay.

Steven Wolff:
Yes.

Richard Kasperowski:
And I want to know more and more, and more. Okay. So there’s one example though. Well, exactly, what would that look like? What should you do? How could other people proactively seek that support? It’s one thing to say, proactively seek support. It’s another thing to know how to do it. So, what are the steps? How do people do that?

Steven Wolff:
So the first thing is, you need to understand what’s important to the executives. I was a little bit lucky in the sense that this project had their visibility. So it wasn’t just something that was happening somewhere in the organization that they didn’t care about. That was a little bit luck of the draw. But given that, I would go to them and I say, “Look, here’s an issue. Here’s what we need. If we don’t get this, we’re not going to be able to get this done on time. And so I need your support.”

Steven Wolff:
And so it was pretty much that simple. And what I would do is I would go to the director of engineering, which was the person who was in charge of our department. And if there was something that needed attention outside of him, I’d go to him and ask him to ask somebody higher up. But I also had the ear of the people higher up too, because they were in the same building. So I’d run over there and talk to them as well.

Richard Kasperowski:
Right. Right. All right. So there’s one thing as advice for our listeners and viewers. What else would you suggest that people do to reproduce the kind of success that you had with this team?

Steven Wolff:
What else?

Richard Kasperowski:
And this is like, what should people do? This is like we just said, not just get more support from executives, but exactly what are the steps? How do they do it?

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. So I’m not sure I can answer the exact steps. I think you just need to go out and ask. And I think, as I said, the important thing around executives is really understanding what they need. So I can give you an example from some work that I did. Not this team, but that talks about that. It was a manufacturing team. And this is freaking amazing.

Steven Wolff:
So this team was responsible for the quality of the products that are produced. And it needed a new machine. Capital equipment, they’re expensive. Tens of thousands, if not more, dollars. And this was a very proactive team. And so, what it did was it went and it made a pitch to management. But it didn’t just say, “Well, look, we need a new machine because our quality is going to be going down.”

Steven Wolff:
They knew that management, what was important to them at that time and what they were focusing on, was safety. So they framed the pitch in terms of safety. They went and said, “Look, this machine is not safe,” as opposed to it’s producing crap as well. Okay. And they got their money. They got their money. The same team, this is a manufacturing, small, petite woman who needed something from an engineer and wasn’t getting any results.

Steven Wolff:
She saw the engineer, and this is a true story, she saw the engineer heading down the hall, go into the men’s room. She camped outside the men’s room. She waited for him to come out of the men’s room, accosted him, friendly, and told him what they needed. And she got it. That’s being proactive.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah.

Richard Kasperowski:
Nice.

Steven Wolff:
She didn’t just wait for him. She went and got what she needed.

Richard Kasperowski:
Right. Now, what other advice do you have for viewers and listeners, to get that kind of team?

Steven Wolff:
So this advice is retrospectively based on my work on teams. So one of the most frustrating things to me when I see work being done on teams, and I remember when I was a doctoral student, studying teams, I just almost went through the roof after a while. And to put it in technical terms, and I’ll try and simplify it, you have to treat the team as a system.

Steven Wolff:
And what that means, essentially, is that behavior in the team is a function. People’s behavior in the team is a function of not just the person, but the environment. And the environment in my thinking, is the culture. And so, one of the things that drives me totally crazy is you read stuff. What I was reading back then was, “Oh, really, really great teams have a lot of trust.”

Steven Wolff:
And now, you read, “Really, really great teams, there’s really a lot of psychological safety.” Please, please give me the fairy dust that I can sprinkle on those teams to make them have trust and psychological safety. If you have that fairy dust, I want it because it doesn’t exist. Those things come out of the interactions.

Steven Wolff:
They emerge out of what people are doing. And what you really need to know, is what do people need to do? How do they need to interact in order to create those things? And nobody’s focusing on that. Not nobody, but people tend not to focus on that, because the emergent properties, the trust is visible. I can see it. People can talk about it.

Steven Wolff:
Dysfunctional behavior or conflict is visible. People always want to do Myers-Briggs and understand individual styles. And they want to do conflict resolution. That drives me crazy, too. Not that those are not important, they are important. But not unless you’ve built a cultural foundation to support them. And in my work, you know me, I’m a rigorous scientific engineer.

Steven Wolff:
I don’t use words like magical very often. In my 20, 25 years of work, when you get at those cultural elements, magic happens. I have seen conflict disappear. No conflict resolution skills training. I have seen dysfunctional behavior disappear. Team has pulled the person out, done all of the things that you’re told to do. None of it really worked.

Steven Wolff:
As soon as the team got to the driving issue, that dysfunctional behavior just disappeared. Never came back. And what that driving issue was, by the way, was there was an energy that this person had, and a concern. And the team was working well. They didn’t want to break what they had. And so, to hear that concern was difficult for them.

Steven Wolff:
Because they psychologically, unconsciously, thought it was going to break the team. They didn’t even realize they were doing it. Once they realized it and they could hear the concern, that energy dissipated. And that bad behavior just went away. That’s one piece of advice, treat the team as a system. Remember, people’s individual behavior is a function of the environment.

Steven Wolff:
And just to go along with that, anytime I’m working with a team, if the team says, “Oh yeah, we have someone who’s dysfunctional, is talking too much, is not contributing, is slacking off,” whatever, you name the problem, my first retort to them is, “Oh, so what are you as a team doing to create that behavior?” That’s the first thing I ask them.

Steven Wolff:
And they look at me, because it’s almost always something the team is doing to create that behavior. That’s a really important piece of advice. The next piece of advice that I would have is, as the saying goes, “You eat the elephant one bite at a time.” And I think we think too big most of the time. We want to make a change.

Steven Wolff:
And where you see this a lot, not so much in teams, you see it in teams, but you see it in organizations. There is an organizational change program. It’s like, “Oh, please.” I don’t have to say much, because I’m sure everybody has a reaction to that, but it’s a disaster. And the same goes in teams. You can’t make your team instantly awesome overnight. Do one little thing at a time.

Steven Wolff:
Experiment. Keep things top of mind. So for example, I talked about understanding. So ask people, do you feel understood? Do you notice if people are? And focus on that, and have the team talk about it for 10 minutes. What do we want to do? Do we want to understand each other better? How can we do that? And just keep focusing on it. Maybe you have on your agenda, something that you said you’re going to do around understanding at each meeting. Keep it visible.

Steven Wolff:
And then the other incredibly powerful thing, once you do that, I call it a New Year’s resolution. So you want to understand each other. Okay. We want people to speak up and let us know what they’re thinking. Okay. Well, that’s never going to work. That’s a New Year’s resolution. And so, you need what I call a tool, or a catalyst.

Steven Wolff:
The team needs to develop something to help it. And one of my favorite examples that I give to teams, and especially around understanding, is they’ll say, “We want to bring up the elephants in the room.” Okay. New Year’s resolution. I actually give each member a pink elephant that you can buy from Etsy, or put an elephant icon on the desk. And what that does, it’s a couple of things.

Steven Wolff:
One, is it’s a visible reminder. So every time they see that elephant or hold that elephant, they remember, “Oh yeah, we’re supposed to speak up.” But speaking up is socially difficult. The team is in the middle of a conversation, and they need to get work done. And now, all of a sudden, I’m going to say, “Oh, wait a minute, there’s something that I need to …” And it’s like, your team members are going to go, “What? We’re busy.”

Steven Wolff:
And so it’s really hard for people to just interrupt. But what’s not hard is for people to take their pink elephant and just hold it up. The team can see it and the team can make a choice. Are we too busy to acknowledge our teammate? Or do we follow through on our agreement to understand each other and talk about these things, and ask, what is on your mind?

Steven Wolff:
And they always do the latter. And so having that tool turns your New Year’s resolution into a reality. That’s another really important piece of advice. And the final one that I would say is, there’s a lot of things that teams may observe and want to do. And one of the ones that drives me crazy, is at the beginning of most meetings, a facilitator will say to the team, “Well, what are the ground rules we want?”

Steven Wolff:
And that’s another example of not having a tool to make them come true. So nobody ever follows through on them. But you get a whole list of things. You get some important things. You get some not so important things. Not that if the team wants it, it’s not important. So I’m not saying not to include those. But the intuitively non obvious things that get to the meat of the culture, that creates the emergent properties I talked about, psychological safety, are not obvious.

Steven Wolff:
They’re not obvious. It’s not just not having your cell phone out. It’s really more complex than that. And so you need a map. You really need a map to help focus your attention on what you’re observing, what you want to agree about in terms of interaction, and make sure that you add that to whatever else is important to you.

Steven Wolff:
So, what do we focus on? So to some extent, Team Emotional Intelligence is a map. Okay. I’m working on another framework now, which I call inspire teams, which incorporates Agile into Team Emotional Intelligence. So it’s a combination of Team Emotional Intelligence and Agile. And so, not only do you get the collaboration from Team Emotional Intelligence, you get the accelerated value creation from Agile. So they’re melded together now.

Steven Wolff:
And so if I asked you, “Well, what are the norms that you need in your culture,” people could come up with a list and you’d probably have some really good ones. But you’d probably be missing a lot that’s really important. And so, it’s just a framework. It’s just a framework of cultural norms and habits that are important, that we know from research are important to creating.

Steven Wolff:
And in terms of inspired teams, there’s four outcomes. And so they’re important for creating energy, passion, motivation. They’re important for creating innovation, learning, breakthroughs. They’re important for creating execution, creating value quickly. And they’re important for transparency, which is the way I look at it, making sure you’re not operating in a fog. Right. So, what are the norms you need to accomplish those? That’s the map you need.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. All right. I can totally picture this now. It’s like asking one of your kids, what do you want to do today? Or where do you want to go? And they don’t even know what’s possible, versus-

Steven Wolff:
Right.

Richard Kasperowski:
… here’s the map, literally a map. And there’s a pond over here. There’s woods over there. There’s a playground over there. Now, we’ve got some more concrete ideas about, what are the possibilities?

Steven Wolff:
Yes, absolutely. Yes.

Richard Kasperowski:
Cool.

Steven Wolff:
That’s a good analogy.

Richard Kasperowski:
Well, thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to share with viewers and listeners?

Steven Wolff:
The only other thing that is really exciting that I’m doing right now, and I call it hey, team, what’s up with that?

Richard Kasperowski:
Oh, yeah. Hey, Steve, what’s up with that?

Steven Wolff:
Hey, what’s up with that? And what I’ve discovered, and this goes back to taking small steps, is every team member is responsible for the culture. Everything you do or do not do as a team member, is forming the culture or reinforcing the culture of your team. Most people suffer. A lot of people have been on dad teams, painful teams. Those are most of the ones I’ve been on in the work environment. And what did people do? They sit silently and suffer.

Steven Wolff:
Hey, team, what’s up with that, is a method to give voice to your observations in a way that will not create defensiveness, will not create backlash. You make an observation and then the team can decide how it wants to operate. And one of the ones that people can relate to, that actually a colleague of mine introduced this situation, have you ever gone to team meetings and people are showing up late, and there might be one habitual person who’s always coming in late?

Steven Wolff:
Well, that was the case in this particular team. And nobody would say anything. And this turned out to be an Agile team. A new Scrum Master came into that team, a really good one, and she observed this happening. And all she said was, and I don’t know if she used, hey, team, but, “Hey, team, I notice Jose is coming in late and nobody is saying anything. What’s up with that?” That’s all you need to say. You make that observation. And then the team can decide what to do with it.

Steven Wolff:
You’re not evaluating or assessing. It’s tricky to do this really well. You can say, “Hey, it’s not acceptable to come in late. That’s not going to work.” And so, she made that observation and here’s what happens. You go back to understanding it. It turns out Jose had to bring his kids to school. And when there was traffic, he couldn’t make it from the school to the team meeting on time.

Steven Wolff:
He was embarrassed about it. He didn’t want that to happen. He didn’t want to burden the team with his problem. And by the way, that’s another piece of advice. I have seen the biggest issue that creates problems in teams, is what I call lack of a shared reality. Everybody is operating under their own reality. And the first place I saw this was when I was a professor and I’d have my students writing journals and papers.

Steven Wolff:
Each team member was trying their best to be the best teammate. And they were all living in their own reality. And those realities were creating amazing problems. And I actually created an exercise to solve that problem, pure feedback exercise, which upon telling the students that they were going to do this, created all kinds of angst. After they did it, they’d come up to me and say, “How come we didn’t do that sooner? How come we don’t do it more often?”

Steven Wolff:
Because it solves that shared reality problem. And so, he didn’t want to burden the team. Once she asked that question, he spoke up. He shared his reality with the team. The team could then move the meeting, provide support to that team member, which is another norm that’s really important. Caring. I call that caring.

Steven Wolff:
Just think about the emotional bond that having your team recognize your issue, and move a meeting to help you create simple, simple, simple little action, all instigated because somebody made an observation and the team could then work with it. That’s what hey, team, what’s up with that is about. It’s helping everyone because everyone’s responsible to make that observation that’s going to matter.

Richard Kasperowski:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s a beautiful tool, and it’s so easy for people to try out.

Steven Wolff:
It’s very easy. Easy, small steps, and powerful.

Richard Kasperowski:
All right. Thank you so much for that.

Steven Wolff:
You’re welcome.

Richard Kasperowski:
And Steve, if viewers and listeners want to get in touch with you, is there a way to do that?

Steven Wolff:
So yes, I have a website. And it’s stevenwolff.com. You can see the spelling of my name above my shoulder there. S-T-E-V-E-N-W-O-L-F-F, two Fs, dot com. And you can go there and you can find my email address. You can sign up to a mailing list, which I don’t really send out a lot of stuff.

Steven Wolff:
So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me very often. And my email address is just steve@stevenwolff.com, if you want just that. And I do have to say, this website was created when I was thinking about doing speaking. I haven’t updated it, so don’t judge the website, but just use the information on it.

Richard Kasperowski:
We are not your judge. Before we started recording the podcast, you and I were talking about it, this Agile idea. Get it done.

Steven Wolff:
Get it done, yes.

Richard Kasperowski:
Then make it better.

Steven Wolff:
Yes. And I appreciate that Agile advice from-

Richard Kasperowski:
Oh, and feedback from the field, if nobody wants it to be different. Then it’s perfect. But if somebody asks that, then you’ll know.

Steven Wolff:
Yeah. Well, it definitely needs more on there, not just the speaking part.

Richard Kasperowski:
Steve, I think your website needs a refrigerator light, like when you open the door.

Steven Wolff:
Ah, yeah. Yeah. If I could only figure out how to put that on.

Richard Kasperowski:
Well, Steve, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a lot of fun, reconnecting and learning so much more from you. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

Steven Wolff:
Well, you are so welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Richard Kasperowski:
My pleasure. And listeners and viewers, remember to support this podcast. Visit my website, kasperowski.com

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