A resilient team is one which easily adapts to change and embraces that challenges that the world of work presents them with. In a resilient team, there is a high level of self-management, people are self-motivated to achieve work objectives, and they strive for continuous improvement. These are exactly the characteristics that have been required during the Covid-19 pandemic in order for teams to continue to do well. But remember what I’ve said before: resilience is like a parachute – you’d better have one when you need one or you’ll never need it again.
Resilient teams have eight key characteristics:
1. Coping Ability
Perseverance and inner strength mark the resilient team. Challenges are seen as opportunities to grow. Members believe the best in each other in spite of weaknesses, and recall the many examples of endurance and success in the past. They work through communication impasses and try alternative approaches to work when necessary. They also minimize distractions to stay focused on their work, and regularly use resources outside of the team for ongoing training and coaching.
Aim at everything and you'll hit nothing. Resilient teams have specific goals, clear strategies, and defined relationships into which they invest themselves. Members are resolutely dedicated to each other’s well-being and to accomplishing the team's purpose. Members feel like they belong to and can influence their group. The goals of the team are highly valued and prioritized, yet with due regard for members' responsibilities to family, friends, the local community, and other groups.
Team members regularly and easily express their appreciation for each other. Thanking one-another and acknowledging each other's contributions add much to group cohesion. Appreciation is both an attitude and a behavior, so cultivate both!
Members of strong teams have good communication skills, including conflict resolution. They listen well and can empathize by reflecting back what they hear, and they validate others' feelings. They value self-awareness, taking time to step back and reflect in order to step forward and connect with others. Genuine efforts are made to explore and relate together in culturally-sensitive ways. There are also clear written and verbal channels for exchanging information and updates about life and work.
5. Time Together
Teams need quality time together, and a lot of it. This is especially true during significant transitions: when teams bring in new members, during crisis situations, or during the early stages of team life. Intimacy with a few members but congeniality with all is a reasonable goal. Resiliency also results from periodically having "fun" times together - simply enjoying one another's company - plus from building mutually supportive friendships.
This has been the greatest negative during the work from home period we’ve been through. Many organisations have decided to either continue to allow working from home or to implement a hybrid working arrangement. This either means working some days at home and some days at work, or it means that some people work from home and some people come to the office.
We need to be very clear that there is no virtual substitute for teams spending time together. Regardless of the working model adopted by your organisation, you need to make sure that there are regular opportunities for your team to spend time together. Some people have become very comfortable working from home, and are resistant to efforts to bring them back to the office, but you need to make certain team together-time non-negotiable. And it is not “everyone in the office” for its own sake. It is important to use that time purposefully for things that the team needs to work on together. This includes:
- Talking about how people are doing;
- Talking about the work and how it is progressing;
- Progressing projects, making decisions and solving problems together;
- Talking about how the team is doing as a team;
- Taking time to express appreciation to and for each other;
- Spending “social” time together over lunch or coffee just chatting and connecting.
Henri Nouwen observed that one of life's hardest realities is that "love and wounds are never separated". Healthy teams will experience tensions and hurts. There are times when our darker sides will emerge. And there are times when our just being different will create friction. To lessen the impact, team members look at their different "styles" and preferences: personality, leadership, decision making, learning, work, communication, and spirituality. Focus is more on "fitting together" than on identifying someone's weaknesses. Team members thus try to genuinely understand and accept one other's "way of being", while also being free to give one another feedback. Resilient teams are able to let go of things and move on rather than bearing grudges.
Resilience requires regimen: clear roles for leaders and other members, well-defined decision-making methods, agreed-upon accountability and conflict resolution guidelines, and in many cases a written agreement or "memo of understanding". Everyone has designated and chosen responsibilities, so people know how they fit and where they belong. Structure brings a sense of security.
Resilient teams are learning teams. They take the time to learn from both their mistakes and their successes. When they address problems, they do not look for blame, they look for real causes – and they address these causes. They share ideas with each other and regularly brainstorm options for doing things better.
Why don’t you share this article with your team and have them assess how resilient they think they are. Ask them to make a judgement about how the last 2 years have affected their resilience as a team. Then, in one of your team meetings discuss this and make some decisions about what you and your team need to do to bolster the team’s resilience.
If you recognise that you need to take the lead in developing your and your team’s resilience, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss your coaching programme.