Resilience is described as the ability to ‘bounce back’ from change and challenge, but it is usually applied to individuals. What about teams? What do team leaders need to know, to go about building a resilient team?
Resilient teams typically display the same key elements as individuals:
- They have healthy habits,
- They leverage strengths,
- They are responsible and accountable, and
- They create and focus on goals.
There is a part of our brain called the Basal Ganglia. It is responsible for procedural learning and routine behaviours. Moreover, the Basal Ganglia doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. All it recognises is repetition and the creation of processes based on recognised trigger points. It is through this repetition and process that individuals develop good and bad habits. Teams can develop habits in the same way. If the team repeatedly gossips in the first five minutes of a team meeting, this becomes a habit. Conversely, if a team repeatedly bounces ideas off each other to find solutions to problems, this becomes a habit too.
Everyone has strengths that can be developed. When people know their own strengths and the strengths of others in their team, they are better equipped to leverage them together. This way, team members can work in partnership to maximise each other’s strengths and compensate for individual weaknesses. This means a team not only supports each other’s strengths, they also pinpoint development areas to create strategies and learning opportunities. Resilient teams also practice the celebration of learning to build individual and team growth. When resilient teams are put under stress, they have been shown to learn from these situations and grow.
Responsibility and accountability
Resilient teams take responsibility for their actions and hold themselves accountable. Moreover, they celebrate their mistakes and learn from them, so they don’t repeat them again. That doesn’t mean they reward themselves for errors, but it does mean they don’t punish themselves either. This part of the process is simply the acknowledgement of mistakes and reflecting on them for learning.
Resilient teams know the goals of the organisation and align their own goals with them. This enables them to develop specific and clear strategies for success. Furthermore, when the team creates goals collectively, they attach greater value to them. Therefore, they are more inclined to dedicate themselves to accomplishing the team’s purpose. Moreover, as long as there are clear goals and strategies for achieving them, resilient teams are more likely to hold a positive image of the future. This includes maintaining a positive outlook and envisioning brighter days ahead during times of adversity.
Organisations devote an immense amount of time and effort to building the best teams. But if a team can’t overcome setbacks and challenges, then those resources are wasted. Highly resilient teams can undergo large amounts of adversity, but they don’t wallow or dwell on what went wrong. Instead, they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.