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Building Team Resilience - Highlight 'Needs' & 'Expectations'

It is well known that one of the key factors in building team resilience is that of ensuring that trust is strong, not only within the team across all the team members, but also that there is strong trust between the team and both internal and external stakeholders. In this short blog I'd like to look at a simple method of starting the process of building strong trust between all the team members.

Many teams will build trust 'organically' in that the more they work together, and the more individuals deliver on their commitments to the team, then the more trust builds. If the leadership is not as good as it should be, then this can create a whole number of challenges within the team and as a result trust can be severely impacted upon, with cliques and factions one result of this. Trust is then dented and performance and resilience of the team can be very much reduced. Similarly, if there are 'distruptives' in the team, whether they be 'spoon-feds', 'dark angels', 'prima-donnas' or 'loudmouths', and the behaviours of these individuals are not managed constructively then, again trust can be lowered considerably. I've mentioned in previous blogs and posts that I am still continually amazed at how many so-called teams simply 'dive into task' when brought together to achieve specific goals, and never take the required time to work out and agree just how best they are going to work together to achieve the team goals. This is a big mistake and can lead to trust taking longer to build than is necessary, particularly as the team can take longer to get through the 'storming' phase of team progression. Whilst 'storming' can never be totally avoided it can be very much reduced (in both time and intensity) if teams simply take the time to cover some of the essential performance basics. Here is one exercise that teams should perform prior to getting stuck into the task or plan.

Assuming that the team are clear on their purpose and aims and goals, then take some time to build awareness of the personalities, the strengths that are present and also the resilience levels within the team. There are numerous profiling tools around that can raise the awareness within the team of all of the above and there can be fun team building exercises built around these profiling tools. Even if you do not have the budget to do the profiles ( and they can done really quite cheaply) then I strong recommend that a 'needs' and 'expectations' exercise is carried out. This is a simple exercise to do, although it does need a degree of decent facilitation for the exercise to be fully productive. There are two aspects to the exercise. Firstly, it is essential that each individual team member gets the opportunity to outline what their particularly 'needs' are in terms of the type of behaviours that they need to see displayed across the team and also those behaviours that they definitely do not want to see demonstrated. We've all worked in teams that have been a pleasure to work in, so encourage team members to talk about these times. What was so good about working in these teams? What behaviours did the team demonstrate? We've also all worked in teams where is was not a great place to be! So, what behaviours were demonstrated that team members would not want to see now? Through this exercise team members get to highlight not only their 'needs' but also their values. Make sure that everyone's contributions are documented. There will be a lot of overlap, but there will be some key themes that come out across the team , and these should be included in the Team Charter, as a record of what behaviours and attitudes the team agrees to display and demonstrate at all times.

Part two of this exercise is to ensure that the expectations of management are clearly outlined and in addition, (and few managers do this unfortunately) the expectations of management from the team should be highlighted as well. These expectations go beyond the agreed behaviours and attitudes already agreed, and should focus more on processes. For example, as a manager I expected the team to ensure they hit deadlines for projects and reports but to also 'push-back' if deadlines were not going to hit due to external challenges. I also had expectations around the quality and content of reports. Another key expectations was that if someone was struggling to be open about it so that I and the team could support them. The team came back with some of their expectations such as being as transparent as possible with company communications, ensuring that if I had doubts about anyone's work to be immediately upfront, and also not to work on my holidays! Again, document these expectations and build these into the Team Charter.

This simple two factor exercise is a very powerful and motivational exercise that is well worth doing. It builds awareness within the team and also starts to build strong trust between all the team members - assuming everyone keeps to the agreements outlined in the Team Charter! As a result of the increased awareness and trust, resilience is enhanced right across the team.

If you would like to know more about our 'Resilient Partners' team development programme then simply message me through LinkedIn or via email at . Alternatively call me on ++ 44 (0) 776 416 8989

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