How You Can Build a More Resilient Team
Free Book Preview: Unstoppable
Now, more than ever, we need our teams to be resilient, able need to be able to bounce back and keep moving forward. But how do you build and motivate such a team? Well, just like a muscle, resiliency can grow by using the following conditioning tips.
Be more empathetic.
Empathy, in my opinion, is the most important trait for leaders because it leads to a more loyal, engaged and productive team. It also teaches presence, increases happiness and fosters collaboration.
Being empathetic also gives your team a sense of belonging and self-worth. You can practice being more empathetic by spending time and actually getting to know your employees better.For example, schedule more one-on-ones or invite team members to lunch. Other ways would be to check-in with them frequently and actively listening to them. You should also help them identify stress triggers that are affecting their work and wellbeing. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, social support is essential for managing stress among groups, social support is essential.
Think like an NCAA coach.
In his work with NCAA coaches, Bradley Kirkman, Ph.D., found that they all possess the following four team attributes:
- Team potency is “the collective belief of a team that it can accomplish important and significant tasks.” Having this type of “collective confidence” can help them overcome adversity whenever it strikes. Establishing clear team goals and aligning it to your team’s work can help you achieve this. You can also try hypothetical trial runs of potential adversity.
- Team mental model of teamwork is when members understand “their and others’ roles, responsibilities and interactions, and being familiar with one another’s knowledge, skills and preferences.” In short, everyone on the team needs to be on the same page. You can enhance this by holding briefings and coaching sessions and always being transparent.
- Capacity to improvise is “making something novel ‘on the fly’ out of previous experiences, practices, and knowledge.” You can improve this by composing diverse teams and setting high-level and meaningful goals.
- Psychological safety is to “the extent to which a team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. Interpersonal risks include offering unusual or creative ideas without fear of being criticized or ostracized by other members.” You can build this by being inclusive and accessible, asking for input, and encouraging different perspectives.
Don’t let them get sucked into the vacuum of uncertainty.
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, or know someone who has, your greatest nemesis is uncertainty. Of course, that’s not always possible. I think the current challenges we face have proven that life can suddenly and drastically change your plans.
So, just put yourself in your team’s shoes. During uncertain times, they’re more likely to ruminate. As a consequence, they become more anxious and almost obsessed with the unknown.
To relieve this anxiety, don’t hide information from your team — no matter how bad the news is. “In fact, people would far rather know exactly what the situation is, rather than feeling they’re being kept in the dark,” says psychologist Derek Roger in an article for Quickbase. “Lacking information will almost inevitably devolve into rumination, and hence our plea to leaders to try to not to give anyone anything to ruminate about.”
The same article cites William Bridges, who says that during change people want to know:
- Purpose. “Why are we making this change? What is the rationale behind it?”
- Picture. “What is the end state we are trying to get to?”
- Plan. “What are the steps we need to take to get there?”
- Part. “What is my role in the change? How do I help?”
If these questions aren’t answered, this creates a “vacuum of uncertainty.” And, to fill this, your team will ruminate.
What’s more, you need to make yourself available and keep the lines of communication open. Whether if it’s scheduling weekly town halls, having “open door” hours, or keeping your Slack status active. You need to keep your team in the loop and respond to them in a timely manner.
Push back against assumptions.
“According to Marilee Adams, an executive coach, our mindsets are driven by the questions that run through our conversations and internal dialog,” notes the Harvard Professional Development Blog. “In her book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, she presents two mindsets: ‘the learner’ and ‘the judger.’” If you had to guess, which one would make you a stronger leader?
- Learner questions are focused on solutions and lead to understanding, progress, and discovery: “What am I missing? What actions might I take?”
- Judger questions are reactive and lead, well, nowhere productive: “Why aren’t we outperforming the competition? Who’s at fault?
While it is normal to have moments of each, adapting a learner mindset can steer us and our teams in the right direction. More importantly, it helps challenge any assumptions we may have about team members. That might not seem like a big deal. But it could fracture relationships by assigning blame or not trusting their opinions or skills.
Focus on getting it right.
I would think that having self-confidence is an important leadership trait. But, that doesn’t mean you should have an overinflated ego. There are a lot of reasons why you need to check your ego at the door. You don't always have to be right — that is, instead of always having to win an argument or blurt out “I told you so,” change your mindset to “getting it right.” When you do, you’re encouraging your team to develop its own ideas and decisions. More importantly, you’re giving your people the ownership to follow through.
If they fail, they can learn and grow from their mistakes, which in turn, will make them more resilient.
Express gratitude and appreciation.
Finally, resilient teams express gratitude for each other. And, they don’t hog the spotlight. They give credit where it’s due.
As a result, these positive feelings can change the brain. When conditioned, that means we’re constantly seeking the good to repeat how we feel. In turn, this reduces anxiety, greater mindfulness and higher self-esteem.