Get stuck

Being honest about struggles can help build a stronger team.

We all have been either a participant or organizer of the dreaded weekly team meeting where there always seems to be a lot of talking with little to no action. These meetings often leave people feeling as though they wasted their time, and most count the minutes until they can return to the tasks of the day.

But Harvard Business Review says it may be possible to change the tenor of your team meetings by asking: “What are you stuck on?”

The article’s author, Ron Friedman, says: “Naming your biggest obstacle in a room full of strangers may not strike you as a particularly enticing proposition. [But] view these so-called ‘hot seats,’ as an opportunity to gain clarity on major barriers and identify solutions. ...”

Having employees answer this same question every week can provide several benefits:

  • Reduced procrastination. Employees will come prepared to discuss what they are struggling with, and they will have time for self-reflection and problem solving before the meeting. Friedman writes: “One major reason people procrastinate at work is that they are unclear on how to move a project forward. Lack of clarity makes us uncomfortable, and that discomfort is something we seek to avoid, often by immersing ourselves in distractions. By inviting team members to pinpoint and publicly share an obstacle, leaders snuff out procrastination before it takes hold.”
  • Resilience. Sharing obstacles among peers shows employees they are not alone in the struggle and difficulty is natural. This perspective “is useful because it fosters resilience. It’s much easier to weather adversity when we anticipate being tested. In contrast, when struggle arrives unexpectedly, it shakes our confidence and leads us to question our abilities,” Friedman explains.
  • Increased trust. Allowing oneself to share a struggle and accept advice and input will naturally build a stronger team that looks out for all team members while taking advantage of everyone’s strengths.
  • Exposing “coasting.” There may come a time when an employee says he or she is not currently struggling with anything. That should raise some red flags. “Either the employee is not feeling stretched, or they are unwilling to share,” Friedman writes. “In either case, it’s worth having a one-on-one conversation to dig deeper. Engagement comes from stretching, not coasting along. The ‘stuck’ question helps leaders ensure that everyone on their team is growing.”

Asking “What are you stuck on?” could result in a stronger team, better team meetings and push people to achieve more. So my question to you is: “What do you have to lose by admitting you’re stuck?”

AMBIKA PUNIANI REID is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA’s vice president of communications.


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