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The "4 S" Stages of Team - Shook

Where you live - the state of your team

This is the second of our 4-part series that unpacks the characteristics and helpful tips to navigate four key states teams find themselves in -

1. starting

2. stuck

3. shook

4. stoked

You’re shook

As a leader, this state is challenging to navigate and will demand much of you to meet the moment with skill. These are just a few of the big causes of shook teams:

Hey, how about we borrow techniques crisis response teams use?

Before you accuse us of being a dramatic, I promise we aren't. Why? Because to our nervous systems as humans, any of these big occurrences register as threats to our nervous systems, initially. So it makes sense to adapt the prevent-stabilize-resource-support-progress paradigm of crisis intervention to our situation here, using slightly different language.

Stop! (collaborate and listen)

Vanilla Ice was kind of onto something. But what we specifically mean here is to first pause and assess, and then prevent further harm or disruption as much as humanly possible. Nobody thrives when new waves keep knocking them over after they've just come up for air and were trying to stand. As a leader this means fierce advocacy for your team and ruthless de-prioritization of smaller change initiatives. This might mean uncomfortable conversations with those higher up the chain, but it's essential to this shaken team to be able to trust your leadership.


Next, let your team catch their breath on the life raft they just boarded. This is where trust continues to be essential—now among the fellow life rafters—to figure out how to optimize being in this thing together. This is where deep psychological safety work is the best investment you can make for this team.


As the team experiences the felt sense of safety/trust navigating this challenging time together, a focus on resourcing/taking stock of what they have versus what they need is required. This is where creative problem solving skills are going to make or break how the journey goes from here. Look for unexpected ways to generate fresh thinking. We're huge believers in the use of humor techniques in these situations. They really work. And they're fun, and your team definitely needs some fun to keep going.


Do not miss a single opportunity to recognize progress and small wins. This is akin to the life rafters seeing land in the distance that makes it feel like they're going to come through it ok. This is wind at the team's back. Recognize and encourage team members' unique contributions each time you see them.


Once you've all made it through the hardest parts, it's important to take solace in what you learned along the way. What skills did you develop? How did members of your team surprise you? What can you all take forward from the experience? Oh, and please laugh. You know you've got stories.

The VITAL5 ROUNDUP - The "4S" Stages of Teams - Shook

  1. Stop! – Advocate strongly for your team to de-prioritize anything that is non-essential.

  2. Stabilize – Cultivate ways for the team to experience the felt sense of being in this together.

  3. Stock – Take stock of where you are and the resources you have or need to develop to get where you're going!

  4. Salute! – Celebrate and honor every bit of progress and all the small wins as they occur. You're going to need this wind at your back.

  5. Solace - You made it through the hardest parts! Take solace in the skills you and your team developed navigating the shake up and reflect on the ways you surprised each other and learned from one another.

VitalConex is a connect-and-create company. To learn more about the "peanut butter cup" of successful teams, check us out at

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