15 Discussion Topics that Strengthen Teams During Stress
15 discussion topics that strengthen teams during stress:
- What do you admire about your team members? Direct reports?
- What strengths/skills/attributes does our team have that will help us thrive during the next 30 days?
- What bolsters your confidence?
- If you described this situation as an opportunity, what words come to mind?
- What are you enjoying about this challenge?
- What might we learn that will enhance our service over the next 30 days?
- What do we want to avoid today and/or this week as a team/individuals?
- What new opportunities for service might we seize over the next 30 days?
- How will we be better equipped to fulfill our mission as a result of this experience?
- How might this situation make us better leaders? People?
- If we fail to serve each other well over the next 30 days, what will we NOT have done?
- What’s within our control? How might we take ownership of things within our control?
- What’s beyond our control? How might we let go of things we can’t control?
- What language/actions energize you? Drain you?
- What resources might we leverage to better serve each other and our constituents? (Lack makes stress unmanageable. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.)
Mayo Clinic recommends five stress management techniques:
- Relax. (Breathe, meditate, practice yoga or tai chi, get a massage.)
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Engage in hobbies. (Read. Listen to music.)
I’ll add, AVOID CABLE NEWS and watch some comedians.
“The body’s stress response reacts strongly to perceived threats. If you don’t perceive something as a threat, there is generally no threat-based stress response. If you perceive something as a challenge instead, the fear you would normally experience may turn into excitement and anticipation, or at least resolve.” (AIS)
Which discussion topic seems most relevant for your team today?
What discussion topics might you add?
What discussion topics might you add?
Here’s a simple formula I use to help students and managers understand and manage their stress.
D > CS = SR (Demands > Coping Skills = Stress Reaction)
When the demands we face exceed our capacity to cope, we will suffer a stress reaction. So the questions I might ask are:
1. What new demands are you facing?
2. At the moment, what are your most challenging demand ?
3. What coping skills are most effective? (Dan’s stress management techniques)
4. How can I help?
My YouTube video on “Managing Stress” may be helpful.
Thanks Paul. Your formula helps clarify personal stress.
For those interested, here’s a link to Paul’s video: Managing Stress
Fantastic post, Dan! Thank you so much for your wisdom
The most relevant today for our team is definitely the last one. In this new remote world and trying to figure out how to be others-focused is hard. But maybe if we start focusing on the resources we DO have will help us out!
Thanks Gabe. You notice an import shift. It’s so easy to focus on what we don’t have. It’s pretty difficult to get where you want to go by focusing on things you lack. 🙂 Best for the journey.
Thanks, Dan! I shared with a good friend of mine who’s struggling to lead 72 people remotely. Many don’t understand why they need to meet virtually on a regular basis. So, I offered your post & this thought: Crisis totally sucks. Or it’s transformative. You decide whether the sucking means something.
I think these discussion questions are excellent; I especially like how they all work to frame the situation in a positive way. For example, the question “What strengths/skills/attributes does our team have that will help us thrive during the next 30 days?” is a great opportunity to allow team members to assess their strengths and communicate their capabilities in the current situation. This can help to manage expectations while also inspiring them to challenge themselves and use their strengths.
To this, I would add a couple of questions:
1. What strategies will you employ for the next 30 days to stay energized and avoid burnout?
2. What has been the most unexpected positive to come from this situation so far?
3. If you could go back in time to one week ago and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?
I would encourage my team to establish an accountability partner or network within the team- that is, know who you plan to go to if you need help completing a task. Creating these contingency plans can alleviate stress in the moment if issues arise. This also establishes stronger bonds among the team.
I also attempt to stay away from the news for the most part- right now, I only obtain data directly from sources such as the health departments, and avoid the news altogether if possible.
Thanks for the post Dan.
The questions that are most relevant to my team are numbers 12 and 13. During this crisis teams like mine in the medical field have been struggling with the concept of control. This has been a large cause of stress for many of us while trying to adapt to the changing situation. It is helpful to strengthen the team by focusing on what we can control instead of what is out of our control. I also appreciate question number 3. I think it is helpful to ensure that people maintain their personal confidence during times of stress.
For discussion I would also add that it would be important to ask each member of the team about what aspect of their work could be worsening their stress. Answering this question could provide them with more control. I would also want to ask about what types of changes to the schedule we could make to remove some of the stress. Finally, I would add that there should be discussion about what the stress has made us learn about ourselves and how we might use this (good/bad) to improve our leadership.
Thank you for mentioning to avoid cable news. Sometimes I wonder if we would all be better off if the news came to us in a couple hours a night again. Maybe we could all benefit from a news detox?
I just wrote an article for work about the importance of education and refocusing our thoughts. I explained that while it’s tempting to focus on fear, instead of letting fear make us stagnant, we can focus on new goals. We can choose to focus on things that we can cultivate, and it can help us look forward to what we’re doing or planning to do.
I think it’s so important to offer empathy and also hope during uncertain times and in times that are stressful, and there’s so much wisdom in asking open-ended questions that allow us to look thoughtfully at what’s going on. It also helps us realign ourselves with gratitude or comfort because it’s a reminder that we’re not going through it alone.
I love the questions that you offered to start conversations during this time because it’s so easy to focus on things that we can’t change. I particularly like the one about what’s within our control, which I’ve been asking people as I speak to them. I also like the one about how we can serve each other. I think of that in the context of friends and my church family; however, it’s just as important with our colleagues. Thank you for bringing that to light for me today!