When should I deal with a difficult person outside of a team meeting?

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Management vs. Facilitation

A frequent question in my trainings sessions has to do with, “When should you handle a difficult issue one-on-one rather than inside a team meeting”? I have prepared a short video of my full answer to this important question.

Too often well-intended leaders and facilitators handle issues in groups that negatively impact their credibility and permission in the group. Three specific categories of issues fit this condition:

1. Handle it one-on-one if the issue is too complex.

Bringing a complex issue to a low functioning team will just cause the team to spin and it will detract from the team’s confidence in handling issues. A great facilitative leader nurtures team to become more and more functional by getting a track record of results on easier issues.

2. Handle the issue outside the team when team is reeling from too much change.

Many, many teams and organizations haven't adequately addressed the emotional/psychological trauma from past change efforts. The leaders then come with what looks like more change issues, and the teams push back. In these cases more work needs to be done in the group to address the emotional issues and more one-on-one work may need to be conducted by the leader with each of the team members to stabilize the team before proceeding. 

3. Deal directly with a "dominant" person who lacks credibility in the team.

Determining whether a person is truly dominant or merely reacting to group dynamics can be difficult at times. When you determine that the person is trying to dominate the group and they don't have the permission or credibility with the rest of the team, deal with the person from a management standpoint outside of the team meeting.

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