We have all experienced periods of pressure and change in our workplace. These times can be testing, trigger stress and self-doubt in our ability to manage and deliver.
The same sentiment applies to the teams we work with. Yet a team who manages well during times of pressure or change is a team that ensures business continuity, is higher performing and ultimately delivers more. These teams have a culture of resilience.
The question is: how do you attain a resilient team culture that sustains performance irrespective of pressure and change?
As a change management consultancy, this guide shares 4 key building blocks the build a more resilient team. To access it, just complete the form below and the guide will be sent straight to your inbox.
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The performance-pressure curve (see graph) is a key indicator of how a team performs under pressure. The curve illustrates that as the level of pressure increases, the performance level also increases, to the point of healthy tension or ‘stretch’. Our culture consultants advise clients that at least 65% of a team need to feel supported and operating in the ‘stretch zone’ – the area where we all perform at our optimum.
The ‘stretch zone’ is a great place to build resilience as it provides stretch goals which challenge us to grow and develop. To reach this zone, our culture consultants advise that the the performance-pressure curve should be leveraged to:
1. Encourage transparency and ownership about managing work pressure and demand. Resilient teams use the curve to have open conversations about triggers that tip them into the ‘strain zone’. Inevitably, colleagues will seek to support each other to operate through these periods which in turn enhances trust, communication and co-ownership of heavy work demands.
2. Identify strengths within the team and discuss 1 or 2 areas where these strengths could be utilised.
3. Discuss (as a team) what is versus what isn’t working and identify areas to influence that are within the teams control rather than wasting energy and time on issues outside your sphere of influence.
Clarity on goals, priorities and roles is a fundamental building block of a high performing, resilient team. Ultimately, if you did nothing else but continually provided clarity, performance and productivity would significantly improve. You can further build on this by:
1. Building a yearly and quarterly plan that clearly defines goals to anchor the team and keep focus. Re-assess this regularly (at least once a quarter).
2. On a monthly basis (at least) define and adapt your priorities in relation to your goals. Assign roles and agree measures of success and rewards associated to these goals too. This will retain short term motivation and push through periods of pressure.
3. Try and include behavioural measures which describe what a team would hear, see and feel if a priority was achieved.
Resilient people don’t go it alone. The team-support culture keeps people from slipping out of stretch and losing productivity. It’s important that we don’t assume ‘getting on well together’ is the indicator of a highly supportive team. Resilient teams get on together and proactively support each other to get work done. To do this effectively, our culture consultants advise that to manage with pressure:
1. Create a balance between formal and informal support mechanisms. Formal processes such as ring fencing time in team meetings to talk about work pressures help people feel both heard and involved in managing work demand AND drives agreement on how to collectively manage it.
Informal mechanisms such as a team breakfast or coffee breaks encourage openness, connectivity and a feeling of belonging – key aspects of team culture that enhance engagement and diminish the feeling of isolation when we are feeling overwhelmed.
2. Look to have transparent conversations in the team at least once a quarter.
Tip: Share your own perspective – vulnerability can be very powerful and helps build a transparent culture.
3. Build optimism and team belief in overcoming challenges at team meetings.
Tip: Ensure you all get the opportunity to share 1 or 2 of your most challenging goals, the associated priorities and what you have achieved in relation to these.
Challenge one another on what and how things are done to improve work efficiency, for example:
1. Ensure you put aside time at a team meeting to reflect on how things are done. Draw simple process charts on flip charts and get the team to gather round and challenge steps of the process - get detailed and specific if needs be.
Tip: Encourage them to take responsibility and stretch their sense of control by assigning processes to small groups to challenge.
2. Improving where you are already strong is the basis of quick wins and a rapid way to make a notable difference in performance. Teams are more likely to improve a process or demonstrate a behaviour more consistently if it’s already happening.
3. Recognise and reward workable solutions that have been piloted successfully.
A team that can perform well, even during a time of high pressure or change is a powerful force. It ultimately cultivates a resilient team culture that can not only ensure business continuity, but also has the capability to deliver faster, bigger and better results.
A a change management consultancy we advise that to build this capability, remember that:
1. The best performance zone for all of us is when we are ‘stretched’.
2. We slip into strain easily – be aware of the triggers, indicators and ways to help each other get out of it.
3. Clarity on goals, priorities and roles cannot be underestimated. They need to be continually re-enforced and communicated.
4. Ensure formal support mechanisms exist and go beyond ‘getting on well’ together.
5. Take time and effort to challenge what, who and how things are done to tackle work inefficiencies.