When Joan checking her email Tuesday morning, Joan felt puzzled by a message labeled “Minutes: Project Team.” Upon opening the message she discovered that the other members of the team had met the previous afternoon. At that meeting the team made important decisions about the project’s direction. The minutes assigned the lead positions for the project, and Joan’s name was nowhere on the list.
Joan had been assigned to the Project Team. It was a high profile initiative for the company. Joan recognized the team as a valuable means of increasing her profile in the company. Although she recognized a lack of enthusiasm for her participation from the more established members of the team, she was shocked at excluded.
Exclusion is serious. People want to connect with others. Excluding someone from an attractive social group has a serious impact. It frustrates that person’s need to belong while closing the group.
Joan must act. If she accepts the exclusion, she implicitly agrees that she has only a tentative membership on the team. Her first conversation is with the team member who called the meeting; if that doesn’t produce a convincing resolution, she proceeds up the line.
Risks: By pushing the issue, Joan risks being formally kicked off the group or being perceived as overly assertive. Both of those outcomes are improvements over a tentative membership on the team.
What CREW Has to Offer
The forward-looking perspective of CREW heads off exclusion problems.
First, CREW establishes a person’s need for belonging as an important and respected dimension of workgroups. Having agreed on the importance of belonging, it’s hard to ignore one another’s feelings.
Second, CREW establishes ground rules for having conversations about relationships problems. For Joan, introducing the topic need not be a major confrontation, but a continuation of conversations about working together.
When Joan brought up the issue, the team leader reacted dismissively, suggesting it wasn’t all that important for Joan to attend the meeting. Joan enlisted the help of her mentor who placed her on the committee originally to get across that Joan should be included throughout the team process.