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How to Chat With Your Team When the Pressure's On

Updated: May 4

So, you're in charge, and the vibe is tense because everyone's worried about job security. You tried the cheerleader approach, like Eric, celebrating every win to keep spirits high. But, oops, it kind of made everyone more anxious. Here’s a rundown of where things might go sideways and what you can actually do to keep the team vibe positive and grounded.

1. More Than Just Winning

Don’t: Focus only on the big wins.

Do Instead: Make space for the mess-ups and the almost-there’s. Next time you talk about a win, share the behind-the-scenes – the stumbles, the “back to the drawing board” moments, and how you guys figured it out. It’s like telling the blooper reel before the highlight reel. It shows that it’s totally normal to face challenges and work through them together.

2. Silence Isn’t Golden

Don’t: Keep it all close to the chest when there’s no news.

Do Instead: Keep the lines open, even just to say, “Nothing new yet, but I’ll keep you posted.” It’s like when you're waiting for a friend to text back; knowing they’re just busy and not ignoring you makes all the difference. It helps everyone chill out and stay focused instead of cooking up worst-case scenarios.

3. Look Back to Move Forward

Don’t: Always be zooming towards the next big thing.

Do Instead: Take a minute to high-five over what you’ve already nailed. Start a meeting with a quick round of “Hey, remember when we pulled off that thing everyone thought was impossible?” It’s a morale booster, like celebrating a level-up in a game, reminding everyone they’re part of a winning team.

4. Be Real, Not Robotic

Don’t: Act like everything’s perfect when it’s clearly a tough time.

Do Instead: Let them see you’re human too. Share a bit of your own struggle but pair it with a “We’ve got this” pep talk. It’s like when a friend admits they’re nervous about something—it makes it easier for you to open up and tackle it together.

5. Clear Is Kind

Don’t: Drop cryptic messages or sudden meeting invites without context.

Do Instead: Spell it out. If you’re pulling people together, say why right off the bat, like “Let’s brainstorm on X” or “Time to celebrate Y.” It prevents that heart-drop moment we’ve all had when the boss says, “We need to talk,” and you immediately think you’re in trouble.

Leading through ups and downs is all about keeping it real. Avoid sugarcoating or ignoring the tough bits. Instead, embrace the ups and downs, keep everyone in the loop, and make sure your team knows they’re not going it alone. It’s about building a team where everyone feels seen, heard, and geared up to face whatever’s next, together. Because at the end of the day, a team that trusts and supports each other is unstoppable.

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