Leadership Skills: All Teams Need Closure to Feel Complete

team putting thumbs up in the airHave you been part of an effort that ended abruptly — it was canceled or just blew up? Or one that just petered out? And then you were expected to come to work the next day acting as if nothing had happened?

The way some teams end can leave participants feeling incomplete, empty, confused, or even abused. And any of these states cost the participants psychically and diminish their productivity.

To increase your ownership for relationship endings, never gloss over the fact that all teams need closure.

Most teams begin ceremoniously with announcements, formations, orientations, or launches. But many teams disregard the value of a ritual ending.

Without one, members are left holding the loose ends of their personal investments. A lack of formal resolution shows up in foggy semi-conscious cognitions, “What was that about?” “Why was I involved in that anyway?” and “Do I really want to do that again?”

Consider this question for a second: If Uncle Wilbert were to suddenly drop dead, would you bury him without some kind of service? Of course not. Why not? Well, society would not approve. And more importantly, most of us would hold a service to “pay our last respects” — and by so doing invite closure for ourselves and others.

Beyond the moral and spiritual wounds, unacknowledged endings create craters in productivity because people can’t turn their attention and energy towards new goals because they haven’t let go of the old.

As a friend of mine says, all teams need either to

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2 Responses to Leadership Skills: All Teams Need Closure to Feel Complete

  1. Christopher,

    Simply, I like this one. While I don’t have a specific example to share, it does remind me that different environments an teams have to close differently. I would add that teams don’t need to wait for company supported rituals to pull together in their successes, failures, and closures. Persistent teams can shut down one event and begin another. Contract teams as externals do this every time there is an up or a down (sometimes because we just need an excuse to start a party =P)

    This post provoked thought on large scale multi-year closures from my government days in the early 2000’s. Some projects were so big the failures weren’t as real as they should have been for those teams, but the ceremonies of closed projects, shuffling of people, and the beginning of new projects were always “get together” events that some still carry on today.

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