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Death to “Just-Add-Water Team Jelling”

Contrary to what the name implies, teams don’t jell as easily as jello.

  • “Top 5 tips for jelling your team!”
  • “Use this kickoff activity to jump start team jelling!”
  • “Onboarding do’s and don’ts to help your new employee jell!”

No. Team jelling is not a series of steps. That’s trivializing. Replace “jelling” with “success” to understand how silly that sounds. We wouldn’t look for a “kickoff activity to jump start success” because that doesn’t even make sense.

Jelling is everything. It serves everything. It comes from everywhere. It belongs to everyone. It deserves to be taken seriously. It’s not a bunch of checkboxes.

Brené Brown says this of earning trust:

It turns out that trust is in fact earned in the smallest of moments. It is earned not through heroic deeds, or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.

Brené Brown, Dare To Lead

And what is jelling but the result of trust?

Like trust, jelling is the long game. It’s difficult to build but easy to break. It takes months of consistent small moments of listening, vulnerability, reliability, empathy, silliness, authenticity.

Please treat it with the respect it deserves.


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