Why You Should Be Careful Publicly Correcting Members of Your Team

This article aims to explore the dynamic of disagreeing with your team members during times of performance. Disagreements within a team are common and natural when ideas/plans are being ironed out. However, when it is time to perform, you should always maintain an image of cohesion as a team. Examples of ‘performing’ as a team can be a simple family outing in public, an important interdisciplinary meeting at work, or a group presentation at school. When our teams are up against other ones or the audience at large, the team that maintains its unity fully will likely come out on top.

You’re a part of a team in some capacity. Whether at work, at home, or at school, there are rarely times in life when we aren’t responsible for doing our part for a greater whole. We do our part to experience the perks of being a part of a specific team. There can be smaller teams within larger ones, such as a team of siblings within the family at large. You can also be a part of multiple teams at the same time, and each can have differing views on a particular subject.

You’ll sometimes disagree with your team members, and will sometimes feel like speaking out against them. The direction our teams take and method they employ can seem wrong in our view. As part of a team in which its members sometimes disagree, we often feel a need to intervene and state our truth. We sometimes feel a need to correct the course our teams are traveling on in an effort to ensure success for the group. You will feel enticed to correct your team members should they take a wrong turn and say the wrong thing. In doing so, you’ll risk being seen as a team who does not operate under a solid state of unity.


Remaining Cohesive Is Sometimes Worth More Than Being Right

Prior to disagreeing with someone on your team, you should always analyze whether your actions and words serve to maintain cohesion. Will disagreeing with an action or thought another member expresses improve your team’s performance as a whole? Be careful of straying away from the direction your team has chosen to take during times of performance. Even if everyone else on your team has made a critical mistake, do your best to cover up for them and mention it to them when it is time to regroup in privacy.

Try to never introduce disagreement within a team which is already facing adversity. You will serve to divide your team and would make it easier for whoever is up against you to pry open the chink in your team’s armor. Swallow your pride to be right during times of competition, performance, or critical action. You are now one unit, and should adopt any mistakes your team members make as your own. When it’s time to regroup, present your findings to your team, and show whoever made a mistake on your team that you care about letting them save face.

The image that a cohesive unit of people portrays to others is one of confidence and experience. We are often more privy to noticing mistakes others on our team make than those looking on from the outside. Should you notice a member of your team make a mistake, analyze whether it hurts the performance of the team as a whole. If the mistake goes unnoticed audience or opposition, ignore it and maintain the image of unity.

Say for example a coworker does a bad job explaining an important concept during a critical meeting at work. Should you intervene and clear things up at the risk of making your team member look unprepared? Your actions should be sensitive to seeming as if you are disagreeing with the people on your team. Only intervene if your team member’s actions drastically hurt the performance of your team. If their actions merely put a small dent into the overall performance, then maintaining cohesion is more powerful approach than calling out their mistakes. Allow your team member to finish their explanation, and wait to determine whether the audience is as influenced as you are by your team member’s sub-par explanation. Should those who are listening express the same concern regarding clarity, you can then intervene with your clearer explanation.


Run Your Corrections by Your Team First, and Only Then the Audience

If you choose to correct a team member’s actions during a live performance (meeting, presentation, important discourse), your primary audience of concern should be the person you’re correcting. Rather than presenting your correct methods to everyone listening and disregarding the feelings of the person you’re correcting, ask, “Hey John, perhaps the example with the lamp post is a clearer way to explain this concept?”

By focusing on the team member you’re correcting, you’ll give off the image that you care about maintaining team relationships and cohesion. Do not jump the gun and present the correction to whoever the audience is right away. Always run corrections by your teammates first, and then only present the corrections if they agree. You can do this during live ‘performances’, as it will serve to improve the image of cohesion as a team rather than diminish it. Your audience will witness your team making adjustments on the fly, and will be impressed by the method employed in maintaining team cohesion while also caring for accuracy.

Your team’s opinion should always come first. Do not rush to make corrections in the face of adverse situations, and take your time in determining what the correct words and actions are.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.