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Smith Business Insight Podcast | Series 2 . Episode 3 Teams Work

Secrets of Knowledge-Hungry Teams

Smith Business Insight Podcast

People seem too busy or shy or skittish to share information or offer advice that would improve a team member’s performance. This episode shows you how to release the knowledge dam.


Much as we like to think that sharing knowledge is normal team behaviour, the reality is that we often struggle to find that key piece of information a co-worker is overlooking or hiding. Same goes for getting worthwhile feedback. People seem too busy or shy or skittish to offer advice that would improve a team member’s performance. This episode shows you how to release the knowledge dam.

Our guests this episode are Catherine Connelly and Diana Drury. Dr. Connelly is a professor of human resources and management at McMaster University, where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Organizational Behaviour. She earned her PhD at Smith School of Business, where she began her work in knowledge sharing. Diana Drury is the director of team and executive coaching and is a team performance coach at Smith School of Business. They are joined in conversation by host Meredith Dault.



My colleagues are reluctant to share their exclusive knowledge. That headline was posted on Reddit a couple of years ago by a self-described junior developer. The developer wrote, At my new job, I'm supposed to work on an important component of which the details are known to only two people. The problem is, so far, they've been reluctant to share their knowledge to get me up to speed. Sure, if I ask for any specific details, they'll answer them. However, in terms of giving me something to work on, or giving me an intro to the code, or providing documentation, et cetera, nothing is happening.

Meredith Dault: What that junior developer was experiencing is what's called knowledge hiding. Not only is it a real thing, but it's a real thing that can have an impact on how well teams function. And today, on TEAMS Work, we're talking all about healthy team functioning. From turning knowledge headers, into knowledge sharers, to mastering the art of giving effective feedback when you're part of a team. I'm Meredith Dault, and I'm your host for this series of podcasts, brought to you by Smith School of Business at Queen's University. Stay tuned.

01:17: We're lucky that Catherine Connelly is not a knowledge hider. Nope, fortunately, she is our first guest on this episode of TEAMS Work and is here in full knowledge sharing mode. She's going to share more about those concepts, and how they impact the ways in which we work together.

Dr. Connelly is a professor of human resources and management at McMaster University, where she also holds a Canada Research Chair in organizational behavior. She earned her MSC and PhD at Smith School of Business. And that's where she began her work in knowledge sharing. Here's our conversation.

Catherine, thanks for being with us today. It's really great to have alumni coming back to Smith to share their knowledge. Can you start by telling us something about what knowledge hiding is?

02:02: Catherine Connelly: So knowledge hiding is something that I think most of us have experienced at some time. It's when you ask somebody. And, you know, they know the answer to your question. You just need some help about something. And they don't tell you. And they have a few different strategies, maybe for not telling you what you need to know.

So they could just play dumb. They might say, Oh, I don't know the answer to that, even though they do. Or they could be evasive and they could say, Oh, yeah. I'll get right back to you. Or, oh, it's very easy. You just do this one little thing. And you know it's not easy and it is a complicated thing. And you know they're not going to get back to you. Or it could be rationalized hiding. Maybe there is actually a good reason why they should not tell you, that it is none of your business, and you should not have asked in the first place, and they will just tell you that.

MD: So, is this relatively common, like does it happen between colleagues, who are theoretically working towards the same goal?

CC: So in theory, all colleagues are always working towards the same goal, and always help each other, and share all their knowledge with everybody always. In practice, there's no way to make somebody share something, if they don't want to. And so, they don't-- [LAUGHS] --it's not all the time, we estimate-- it's like a high impact, low frequency behavior. The thing is, it's just, when it does happen, it's really annoying and can be a bit of a problem.

03:43: MD: Yeah, for sure. How do we know if people are hiding knowledge? Or conversely, I guess, you talk about sharing knowledge as well, like how do we know what we're getting?

CC: So in general, people overestimate how good they are at lying. And so, often, someone will hide their knowledge and think, oh, they got away with it. People didn't know that they knew that. And people give them a buy. They don't press them for it by saying, oh, I know you know the answer to that. They just let it go. And so people carry on with their work.

But in general, like you're asking the person for a reason. So either it's their job, or you've heard them talk about this issue before, or someone has told you, like maybe your boss said go talk to this person. So usually, you have a pretty good idea that somebody has at least some understanding of this. And so, usually, you can tell if they're just giving you the runaround.

MD: But I still-- I guess I'm still having trouble understanding why somebody wouldn't share information if they have it.

CC: So you might be the kind of person who usually does share. And if you-- that is great. That is really great. The thing is not everybody will and/or they won't do it all the time. And so, in a lot of cases, it depends on who is asking, and what is their relationship with that person. And in particular, do they have a trusting relationship with that person?

And so, maybe you have a lot of expertise on a topic. But if the person who's asking you something-- you don't trust them, or you don't trust what they're going to do with that information, then you'll find a way to hide what you know from them.

MD: OK. I mean, that makes sense, I suppose. You don't want to share stuff with someone you don't trust.

CC: Yeah. Another thing that can affect this is the type of knowledge. So if it's something very task-focused, task-related, people are more likely to share, less likely to hide. And depending on the nature of the requests, if you ask it in a way that's very focused, then people are more likely to answer. Rather than, if you ask, oh, could you please tell me everything you know about topic x? Then people will say, I don't have time for that. Yeah. They'll find a way to not tell you.

06:17: MD: Where does knowledge sharing and knowledge hiding fit in team dynamics?

CC: Yeah. So there's a lot of reciprocity in this, as you can imagine. And so, if somebody starts hiding what they know from team members-- well, OK. Suddenly, you've broken your trust with that person. They don't have a trusting relationship. And then, they're going to reciprocate. They're going to hide from you.

And then that affects the dynamics in a way where people start thinking, Okay, that's how it is? Fine. I'll just work for myself. You're on your own to that. And then, if there's a leader involved who also takes this attitude, then they're not role modeling effective behavior either. And then the knowledge hiding tends to snowball.

MD: Yeah. I mean, because there must be a difference there when it comes to power dynamics. Because in some ways, don't we expect team leaders to hoard information, or we expect our bosses to things that we don't know? And that we aren't allowed to ask?

CC: Yeah. So it really depends on how the leader goes about this. What we found was that rationalized hiding does not damage a relationship. Because people will say, look, I understand why you're asking. The thing is, I can't tell people if there's going to be layoffs yet. But because I don't know or it's not going to be announced until later this month. Right?

So people appreciate the honesty of thought that they're being treated with respect. What people really don't like is evasive hiding because it's so deceptive. Where you're just pretending like you're going to tell someone and then you don't, and it's this whole charade. Or playing dumb, where you're just acting like you don't know. And you know they know. But they're just lying to you about it.

08:09: MD: And are there particular industries where it's more prevalent?

CC: Well, it's interesting you say that because I haven't heard of an industry where it never happens. And one of the places where you would hope it would never happen would be academia and research. But I've spoken to biologists, for example, who told me that they would rather share their toothbrush than share data. [LAUGHS]

MD: Oh, dear.

CC: Knowledge hiding does happen, even when you would wish that it really wouldn't.

MD: Now, is that because we've set up a competitive academic environment?

CC: Yeah. So it's the sort of thing where you have a lot of naturally competitive people. You're expecting a lot from them if you're expecting them to suddenly share everything they know. But what we did find in academia was that the type of knowledge made a really big difference. And so, we can distinguish between two types of knowledge.

So explicit knowledge, which is very like cut and dried, it's this thing and you can explain it very simply and tangibly. Or tacit knowledge, which is more based on experience, like how to do something, or it involves your judgment, or your own personal take on like an assessment of something. And that is what people really prefer to keep private.

09:39: MD: So what do you do when you can tell people are hiding things from you and you need the information?

Yeah. So I think ideally, you already have a trusting relationship with someone. And that you can rely on that relationship for them to understand the motivations for your request. And then, what you will do with the information when you have it. In the absence of that, you have to create substitutes for that.

So you can explain to them-- Hi, I am so-and-so. I am doing this project. I need to know x. Do you know anything about this? The reason I'm asking is. . .  and then tell them. And see what they say. And if they just say, No, I don't know anything, or I don't have time, or something like that, consider if this is maybe above your pay grade.

So maybe this one-on-one conversation is not really working. But maybe your boss will have a conversation with their boss, and then loop them in, and then it's a whole thing, and then that person gets credit for spending time with you and providing the insight, and they get some recognition for what they're doing. So at that point, they're not competing with you. There's something in it for them.

MD: Because I guess, nobody wants to give for free, right?

CC: So what we found with some of our experiments is that people are just triaging, right? Like, people are so busy. They have so much going on. And then, if you burned them with one extra request on top of everything else they have to do, something has to give, right?

And so, it's not that they're avoiding you to sit by the pool and eat bonbons, right? Like, they are avoiding you because they have a full plate already. And maybe 10 other requests of other people who have asked for help. And so, it's not always that they're being rude or mean or malicious. It's just they have their own stuff going on.

11:56: MD: So is there a way to shift the culture in an institution or a workplace towards being more of a sharing culture and less of a hiding culture?

CC: I think there's a few things organizations can do. I mean, one of them is the staffing issue. So if employees are so overburdened that they don't have time to think, let alone to think about somebody else's problem, then of course you're going to have knowledge hiding. Right? It's inevitable, they can't help it. They are just so focused on getting the day to day done. They don't have time to, on the edge of their desk, to work for somebody else.

Part of it also is who you hire into the organization. Any time somebody is being hired, you look for a profile of skills and knowledge and their abilities. But I think you also want to look at their attitude towards their co-workers. And it's sometimes something you can get at these behavioral interview questions about, Tell me about a time when somebody needed your expertise but you were very busy. How did you approach that?

And find out how they view those types of interactions. And so, if they're already used to kind of an all hands on deck approach, then they'd be more likely to take that attitude with them into your team. If they are very much used to being assessed only as an individual contributor, who's competing with coworkers for who is the top person who gets the bonus, then they're going to bring that attitude with them into your organization.

13: 35: MD: Finally, I want to talk about this idea of knowledge sharing and knowledge hiding in the COVID context. So many of us are moving into this hybrid model, which means we have less face-to-face interaction. We don't have those little tiny social interactions which help build trust. So how does all of this information, this research you've done apply to that kind of new world context?

CC: Yeah, that's a huge issue. So I think when you think back to the early days of COVID, people were scrambling. Holy moly. So people would have their three children under the age of 6 at home. They're trying to homeschool. They're trying to do work. They're worried about the state of the world and their health. They're helping family members. Everything is a nightmare, and it is falling apart. If someone asks them at that moment, oh, by the way, what should I do about this file? They're not going to get a quick answer.


Like it's just too much. So I think people's workload has bounced out a little bit. But it's still with us, right? And we're going into a school year where who knows what's going to happen, right? So I think people are still really feeling overburdened by a lot of things going on. So I don't think the early issues that were a significant problem in the early days of COVID, I don't think that's disappeared.

So I think people are still feeling busy. And sometimes, too busy to share their knowledge with coworkers. When you add in a hybrid workplace, this is a huge challenge. Because if everybody is in one place, okay. Just like you say, people will run into each other at the elevator, at the water cooler, and the coffee line. And they'll talk about sports, or their garden, or their pets, right? And it's these one-off conversations, it means nothing. But over time, you build a bit of a rapport and you trust them.

And so, you can use those relationships or acquaintances that you have — know each other enough to ask an unstructured question and get a reasonable answer in return. When we were all at home, that was not at all happening. Because Zoom happens when it begins. And then, we're all black squares, and we put our hands up, and it's a very structured meeting. There's no few minutes at the beginning where you're finding your seat, or walking out together. All of that is gone.

So that's not great. And then, I think what's worse sometimes is when there's a mix. And so, people feel that, Okay, everybody else is interacting but not me. And they feel a little bit more alienated. And so, with that kind of social disruption, I think that's a bit of a problem. And then, with people mostly communicating via email or Slack or through the messaging system on their work computer, it's a lot easier to hide your knowledge when it's not a face-to-face request.

16: 57: MD: So to summarize, it sounds like-- I mean, when you hear that the term knowledge hiding, it sounds kind of creepy, malicious, and mean. Like it sounds like some dark-cloaked evil person who's hiding all their secrets in the back room. But that isn't really what you're talking about, ultimately.

CC: I think sometimes, there is a bit of malice of, you didn't help me last time, I'm not helping you now. Or you stole the last cookie. I'm not helping you. Right? Like I think sometimes, there's a little bit of pettiness involved in that. But I think for the most part, people want to help but they just don't have the capacity. And it's because they're already helping someone else or they're already trying to do their job and just get through the day.

17:40: MD: My next guest also believes wholeheartedly in sharing, especially in team contexts. Specifically, she believes in the power of constructive feedback for improving team dynamics. And she knows what she's talking about. Having built, coached, and supported more than a few effective teams over the years.

Diana Drury is the director of Team and Executive Coaching and is a team performance coach at Smith School of Business. In a given year, she's supporting about 13 MBA and professional master's programs. That's a total of about 200 individual teams, or 1,200 students. Diana is also an athlete, who has competed nationally and internationally in lacrosse, ice hockey and softball. And she's worked as a sports coach too, winning numerous awards.

In fact, to date, Diana has been inducted into seven different Halls of Fames in Canada, as an athlete and coach. But no matter whether you are on or off the field, Diana believes wholeheartedly in the power of feedback to bring out the best in any team. I started our conversation by asking her about why feedback is so important.

Diana Drury: Feedback to me is really a gift. And oftentimes, people just don't get it in the real world today. And I think it's very important that it's a growth opportunity. It's an opportunity to be given specific and actionable items that help an individual to grow, which in team terms helps the team to grow.

MD: Right. OK. So something you just said. You just said, we don't tend to get it. Tell me about that.

DD: Well, I think everyone in every position today in the world as it is, there's no time. We are all so busy that people don't take the time to give feedback, whether it's unsolicited or solicited. It's just something that we don't take the time to do. And I believe, as I said, it's a gift. And it's a lost opportunity, when people are looking to change, improve and grow. When they don't get it, they just continue to make the same repeated behaviors over and over, or actions that could be done in a more efficient, effective way.

19:51: MD: OK. So back to the team context then, why is it so important in a team context?

DD: Well, team members are, they're watching each other more so on a regular basis. When you're in a team, people see how you operate, how you play out, how you behave. They are the people that really are the best to give you that feedback because they see it in the moment daily.

And it's a great opportunity then for them to provide you what I call really objective feedback from their perspective. And when you get that, to me, it's something you can reflect upon. And then decide, Okay, is that something I want to do and change? And if so, how can you help me from what you've seen, and how can you hold me accountable to make those changes?

MD: And in your experience, are people wanting to have feedback? Because aren't people defensive when you start? Can it not always sound like criticism?

DD: I totally agree with that. But we frame it in our world of MBAs and Masters here at Smith. I frame it when I deliver how important it is, that feedback is constructive. And a lot of people will come back and say, Is that critical feedback or is that criticism, Diana? And I'll say, no, no, no, no, I didn't say that. I said constructive feedback.

Constructive is a very different word than criticism. No one wants to be criticized. That's about putting people down in the moment, and nobody wants that. Constructive feedback is really about providing, what I said, specific and actionable items that you can work on, and help change so that you are contributing, not only to your own growth and development, but to the teams. Because when you work on something specific, it does help the team in the end to be more efficient and effective in the work they're doing together.

21:38: MD: OK. So let's just review. So if I say to you, Hey Diana, you talk too much and you dominate the meetings. So that's just criticism?

DD: It is. Because of the way you told me that.

MD: Okay.

DD: What you need to do in that instance, Meredith, is to know your people. And that takes time, right? Teams come together, you've got to build trust. You've got to learn that everyone around the table is different in how they act and react. And finding what's going to work best for them, and the way you deliver the feedback.

MD: Okay.

DD: And that then makes the person more open to it. And again, what you just said to me, that is not the way I would want to get any feedback.

MD: No.

DD: Some people are direct, some people don't direct feedback. It's how you can give feedback in a way that's professional. It resonates with the individual, and they're open to it.

MD: Okay.

DD: And then they have the choice. Do I want to act on that or do I say, Thank you, Meredith, for that feedback? But I'm not going to change anything.

22:34: MD: OK. So correct me then. So I said, Your dominating. You’re too. . .

DD: I would say, You know, Meredith, we've worked together for the last three months. And what I've noticed is that often, when we're in our team conversations, sometimes you tend to jump in a little more often, and we have a norm around one speaker at a time. You tend to dominate, take a lot of the air time. And again, we have a norm around equitable air time. We are looking for everyone's opinions. And again, that's the beauty of a team, is we want to hear from everyone.

There will be people that dominate at certain points because they are more knowledgeable in the subject or in what we're looking at. But again, you have to bring everybody in to allow people that opportunity to speak. And when someone continually dominates, others will pull back and they won't bother to jump in because they know that the person may just well cut them off again.

So I would phrase it differently. I would talk to you knowing how you understand and how you take feedback. And that, again, is based on how much time I've spent with you. So everyone takes it differently, and finding that personality, and what's going to resonate most with Meredith is part of my job in delivering the feedback.

MD: Right. As a team member.

DD: Correct.

22:52: MD: OK. But my guess is that people are also hesitant to offer feedback because it can so easily stray into that critical space, right?

DD: Absolutely.

MD: So how do we encourage people to deliver feedback, even when it sort of seems easier not to.

DD: Well, in our world here, it's part of the agenda. is that at the end, when we look at an opportunity on the agenda to provide feedback and/or deliver information, where everyone around the table is providing, what's working, what's not, what could we do differently, which leads into a debrief, that's when we look for people that want additional feedback on a specific leadership role they've played.

It opens the door for them to be allowed to say, I just led this team project. I'd like feedback on the role. And/or, the team saying, Meredith, you just led this. Would you like us to give you feedback on how you did in the role?

MD: Interesting. So you're laying, you're just paving the route by just saying, Do you want this or I want this?

DD: Correct. And it's part of. . .  how I deliver my content is that it's a gift. And the more often that we are open and saying to our team members, I am open to feedback. Please give it to me. I will welcome it. Then, it's more likely I'm going to give it to you, whether you're asking or not, than if I'm asking you if you want it.

25:12: MD: Got it. So some research though, has shown that some people, especially empathetic people, are maybe more reluctant to give feedback because they know what it feels like to have to be given some of those bad news or whatever. Or critical, maybe someone could be sending critical. What's your experience with that? The different types of personalities and especially those empathetic ones?

DD: Yes. And again, everyone on a team is different. And we do that on purpose at Smith, right? We want to make our teams as diverse as possible to mimic the real world. So in the beginning, we look at personalities. We do the big five assessment. And we allow people to share where their strengths are, where their vulnerabilities are, and especially, if they're extroverted versus introverted.

Introverts will tend to sit back. They won't jump in like an extrovert does, who wants to be heard all the time. Who wants to take on the roles. So we encourage the opportunity by going to each person to open up that conversation. If it's part of the team's contract and a norm that people will receive feedback openly, we have those discussions up front so that it becomes part of the culture.

And it takes time. It doesn't happen overnight, right? It's like taking a best practice and trying it over and over again, refining it to the strength of the team. And everybody buying in. It's the same thing with feedback. And often, people will look at that as an opportunity. So Meredith, if someone is worried about it looking like criticism, we offer what I call the value add feedback as well.

So I would start with all of the things you bring to the team that are valuable that I see from my perspective, right? I'm not acting on behalf the team. It's from my perspective, what I see in you. And then, you've heard all that, themes come from each person giving you feedback. That's the critical piece for me as you identify those teams.

And then we go around and we offer that constructive feedback. What could Meredith do, in this instance, next time, that would help her to be more efficient, more effective? And again, we all have a bit of saying in that, and you hear it. And then themes come out of it again. And it resonates more, so when you have themes versus one-offs from every individual.

27:19: MD: Right, so my theme would be, I'm dominating too much. So then I have to go and do a little self-reflection and figure out how to modify that.

DD: And the team can give you some feedback on, Okay Meredith, you come back and say, well, how would you suggest I do that? Does anybody here have any tips for me? Best practices. And that's where our coaches come into play. Our executive coach is right where. . .

MD: Right.

DD: . . . they're the experts. So you could take that item to them: I've been given this feedback, and what is it that I can work on to be better at not being so dominant and taking over in the meetings?

27:48: MD: But how do we apply this to the workplace where people listening might not have the advantage of an executive coach, or might not have the advantage of having a team that's so fully supported, or that has a team charter, or something that allows them to be so equitable. I mean, how do we apply this to the workplace?

DD: I do believe that there are people in your workplace every day that see what you do, even if you're not part of a team as our team-based programs are here at Smith. That it allows people to see what you do on a day-to-day basis. And I see this when I work with Queen's Executive Education, when we do our leadership program. We put together teams, and we actually do a round of helper-seeker and a round of 360-feedback.

And they see what their direct reports, et cetera, have said about them in the workplace. And that gives them something to leverage. To be able to go back and ask the specifics, right? Because it's in the report. What is it exactly that they are looking for? How can then I be better at it? So go back to the person you feel comfortable in the workplace, going back and saying, Okay, I'd like to know more about that, Meredith. You see this in me. I know it's something that I need to work on. I've been told before. But again, I don't know where to start. Is there anything you can do to give me some tips, pointers, advice, even on how I could be better at that? I'll try it and you hold me accountable. I'll be asking you for regular feedback. Or, I'm giving you permission to jump in. If you see me doing something, give me, That's great Diana, you're working on it. Or, You're back to your old habits, Diana.

MD: Right.

DD: So you can ask for that and get it within the workplace without being on a team with people that are around you that you trust.

MD: I was going to say, it sounds like trust is the key at the heart of this. Because someone you don't trust, or someone who doesn't trust you. . . I mean, you say to a subordinate, give me feedback. And then, the subordinate gives you feedback, and then it doesn't feel comfortable.

DD: Exactly. You have to feel comfortable. And that person has to know you well enough. It can't be a new person that you've just been hired. And two weeks later, you go to them. It's got to be somebody that's seen enough of what you've done within the workplace.

MD: Right.

DD: And can offer you that insight to help you grow and develop. But also it helps the whole organization.

30:06: MD: OK. So can we talk though about the difference between that solicited feedback that you're asking for versus unsolicited feedback? I mean, that's going to generate a totally different response, I imagine.

DD: It absolutely does. And so, again, in our world it's part of the culture here. That feedback is given, whether it's solicited or unsolicited. And often, in the workplace. . . I mean, I find that we don't get any feedback unless we ask for it ourselves, especially in the role I do. I don't get feedback a lot, other than if I reach out to the students I'm teaching, I get the feedback. And I ask for it. Because I want to be better at what I do. And if there's something that would resonate more efficiently, quickly, effectively, that's going to work for them, I want to be doing that. So I ask for it. And I think the more you ask and get comfortable.

But unsolicited, it's much harder because you don't know. But I often say to people, if you're seeing something in someone and they haven't offered it up that they want it, just find some time, maybe go for coffee, sit them down and say, You know I've been watching. I'd really like to give you some feedback on what I've been seeing that will help you be more efficient, effective, better in your job. And I often believe that people that are younger may be more receptive to feedback that's going to help them grow into the organization, or to get them at a higher level.

And again, you have that opportunity to reject it, or to say, Okay, let me think about it. And realize that it's a gift. When people are willing to give their time to tell you something they've seen, to me that they're offering and they're willing to help you to grow and be better as an individual, which again helps everybody in the organization.

So unsolicited is much harder. But I still think people should take the opportunity. And if you're told, No, thank you, I don't want it, you've tried. You've offered the gift.

32:01: MD: And so, then in your experience, though, have you seen teams really flourish as a result of creating an environment where feedback is a normal thing?

DD: High performance teams.

MD: Right.

DD: That's what they do. Because if they don't talk about when things are happening, the team then becomes more dysfunctional. Because people are continuing to make, what I call, pattern behaviour repeats. And when it's pattern behaviour, you have to talk about it. If it's not efficient, effective, in what you're doing, if you don't put it on the table, that person may know and may continue to do it because they've gotten away with it for so long.

MD: Can you give me an example of a pattern behaviour?

DD: Yeah. Showing up at the meeting unprepared. Constantly. And always having a reason why.

MD: Okay.

DD: Or you're not prepared to contribute to the discussion, but everybody else has done their homework. Again, there's one offs. Absolutely, everybody's going to have a reason at some point or another. But when it's patterned, typically, Diana is not showing up for the third of four meetings, unprepared, we need to talk to Diana. Diana, we need your input. Why is it that the last three times, you haven't been able to come prepared? We want to hear what you have to say. We need you. You're part of this team or this organization, the project.

And often, people will then. . . it'll turn on something that, Yeah, I guess I have been slacking off or I haven't been as focused as I need to be. And again, if you don't give the feedback, nothing's going to change.

MD: Right.

DD: It will continue. And that hurts the individual, but it also makes the team dysfunctional.

MD: Right.

DD: Because why can you get away with it, Meredith, and I can't? Well, maybe I can. Maybe you can. Maybe we all just start slacking. And again, where does that lead us to?

MD: Right. So you've seen the opposite.

DD: Absolutely.

33:41: MD: Have you seen teams go from semi-dysfunctional to really flourishing?

DD: Yes, and that's the hard way. But I call it the right way. They don't sweep things under the rug. They have those heart-to-heart conversations with the individual, and try and frame it in a way that, We're trying to help you here. We're not hurting you. We're trying to help you grow. And we need you. This is part of our team. We need everybody to be doing their share of the work in order for us to strive and be successful in what we're doing here.

MD: And I do wonder about how the hybrid work environment has changed the way we're working together in teams and creating that safe and trusting environment for that kind of debriefing. Have you seen any changes, since we've gone all hybrid?

DD: Oh, Meredith. I've seen a lot. And it's been difficult because I believe the face-to-face is the best. You're able to read people's emotions. You see the body language. People are here, present, focused. When you're virtual, or hybrid, people are often thinking other things, having distractions around them. It's not as effective. But we have had virtual hybrid teams that have really gone above and beyond because they've bought in that it's a very different world than being live.

And the key to that is over-communicating, is that they buy in, they overcommunicate, they check in every 24 hours to see how everyone is. They're there to reach out if you've gone MIA for 24 hours. It's a real tight-knit team. And they buy in to knowing they have to do more than they would if they were a live team.

MD: And then. . .

DD: That's just reality.

MD: And what about in a less-structured environment in a workplace where maybe a manager with his team or her team. How do we manage, how do we get that trust and get that. . . create that safe environment for that kind of debriefing?

DD: I think that manager has to reach out individually to their team members and check in on them as well. And have those meetings with the team, where everyone's engaged. Everybody is offered the opportunity for input. And about how we're going to move forward together. So total buying-in.

It's not from the manager down. It's the team buy-in and that the manager is open to supporting whatever it is that team needs from them, whether it's distance, whether it's additional time, whether it's more workspace time and less meetings online, things like that. I think we're looking at a more flexible and nimble hybrid workplace today.

MD: But making that concerted effort to be able to build trust. . .

DD: More effort. Absolutely.

MD: . . . and give feedback.

DD: More effort, more time put into that.

36:21: MD: Do you think that managers ought to be trained deliberately in how to handle this question of debriefing or giving feedback?

DD: I do. I think debriefing is critical. As well as the providing feedback. Debriefing is what makes or breaks what an individual and/or a team does in the next project or the next assignment they have. We don't take time to debrief in our world either. And I'm a big advocate of it because I believe in it. High performing teams tell me consistently, what made them high performing, the number one thing is debriefing.

And we do it at the end of every meeting in our team-based structure. We talk about what worked in the meeting, what didn't work and the lessons learned from that. So we can carry them forward and build on what's working.

MD: Okay.

DD: But if we don't talk about what's not working, we're going to continue to repeat the behaviour, which is not going to help us to be more efficient and effective.

MD: So right after the meeting.

DD: Right after the meeting.

MD: What just worked, what didn't work.

DD: Correct. Well, why wouldn't you? It's fresh. It's right there for you. It takes 10 minutes to do a proper debrief.

MD: Right.

DD: And you involve everyone. It's not finger pointing and anybody because if it's a team thing. We've just done or a project, it's not about finger pointing. It's, what as a collective did we do that worked? What didn't work? So that next time, for the next go around, what are we going to do differently?

That'll help us right out of the gate to be that much stronger and more efficient, more effective with our time because time is money.

37:36: MD: So do you want to leave us with any final thoughts before we set off back into our team worlds?

DD: Two thoughts, Meredith. I think people need to be more open about asking for feedback they don't get, and realizing it's a gift. It is really a gift. When somebody can observe you and give you some actionable specific things that you're doing. And also, in teams, in departments, just having that opportunity to take the last 10, 15 minutes after a big event has happened, or after a deliverable and just talk about what worked, what didn't and what can we do differently moving forward, to make change and to make it better for the next time. We're always trying to grow. And get that next cutting edge best practice. And that's a great way to do it is through a debrief.

MD: OK. Go, team.

DD: Go, team.

MD: Thanks, Diana.

DD: Thanks, Meredith.

38:34: MD: And that concludes this episode of TEAMS Work. I want to thank Alan Morantz, Julia Lefebvre, and Iryna Vivchar for the behind the scenes support in putting this episode together. Along with editing support from Bill Cassidy and technical support from Andrew Johnson. If you want more insights for business leaders, check out Smith Business Insight at