by Gwyn Williams and Bruce Milroy

Teams can be scary!

In the very early stages of team development, people tend to pay much more attention to themselves than they do to the team.

For members of a new team, or new members who are joining an existing team, a number of questions may be on their mind in addition to the task at hand.

As a team member or leader, it’s important to consider the types of questions people are likely to be considering, both at a conscious and subconscious level. In an organisational environment, there is a high likelihood that people won’t be asking these questions out loud – but that doesn’t mean they’re not pondering the possible answers to these types of questions:

  • Will I be accepted or rejected?
  • Will they like me?
  • How will this group be different from others I have worked with?
  • What exactly will be expected of me?
  • Will I be the most powerful and important, or will others be seen in a better light than I will?
  • What risks am I willing to take here?
  • How am I like other people here?
  • How am I different?
  • Will I feel pressured and pushed to perform in some way?
  • Who will be the real leaders here?
  • What can be achieved here?

Concerns and fears

Although this is not an exhaustive list, many of the questions listed above are driven by a concern or fear that you or your staff might have. When we enter new and uncertain situations, our natural human tendency is to seek certainty wherever we can find it, so being aware that people can become anxious in new situations can help you to provide as much certainty as you can, particularly around areas such as these:

  • I’m afraid I’ll look stupid.
  • Will I tell too much about myself?
  • Will others like me?
  • What if I find out what I’m really like?
  • What if everyone rejects me?
  • What if the group attacks me?
  • I’m afraid I’ll be withdrawn and passive.
  • Will I embarrass myself?
  • What if I’m asked to do something I don’t want to do?