I was sitting in a technology conference session recently and, rather quickly, started focusing more on the presenter than the content (perhaps because the content was less than stellar). Either way, this started me thinking how much easier it is to find faults than fix our own.

This may seem obvious, but just think about it – even in positions of inferiority (in a session to learn or discovering how to create a product) – it is more natural for us to find faults in others or a process than actively work on resolving our own or helping others to improve.

I see this most commonly with teams that are looking to create more collaborative environments – the transparency to some becomes quite scary. And so they lash out. Developers will attack testers - ‘Their job is to find bugs.’  ‘They don’t automate enough.’ Business sponsors will question development motives - ‘They just pad their estimates so I know its not real.’

When I work with teams where I see this, I try and stress getting people talking and understanding each other on a personal level. From there, I stress simple, obvious facts – no one is here trying to sabotage a project / everyone is trying to contribute as much as they can. If we can start from that common understanding, and honestly believe it, then we are taking the first step towards creating an environment that is high with personal safety as well as honest, constructive feedback. Without that as a basis, any gains we make as a team will be on fragile ground.

Quite often, the role of a coach feels like a counselor or a psychiatrist – and part of it really is. Our job, as leaders is to foster an environment were people can become more not only become team reflective, but also honestly self-reflective.