My team is wicked smart and incredibly hard-working, so when something isn’t working, it’s not them, it’s the process. Yet, recently I noticed that it was hard for me to criticize the process without people taking it personally.
Then I stole a page from my Operations Director, Nayef. We created a safeword. (Pineapple for those who are interested.) When anyone wants to give feedback on how things are going, we say “Pineapple.” Then everyone knows this isn’t about “them.”
It immediately diffuses the situation and puts people in constructive problem-solving (vs. defensive) mode.
Funny enough, Pineapple is the second most popular safeword for the other use of safewords. Who knew?