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Resilience and Trust - A Lifeline for Teams

Updated: Mar 15




Resilience is now being taken seriously within organisations and thankfully HR and OD functions are starting recognise that resilience should be assessed and worked on with both individuals and teams. There has been a huge misunderstanding (and this still exists in many organisations) around what resilience actually is, and still for many, resilience means being 'tough' and that you build resilience taking teams through 'Tough Mudder' and 'Training with the Marines' type events. We now know that resilience, in reality, is simply the ability and mindset that individuals and teams must possess so that they are able to face their challenges head on, react to them quickly and effectively, and indeed be better prepared to both 'bounce back' from challenges and also to 'bounce forward' to both anticipate, prepare for, and handle future challenges as they occur. You don't have to be 'physically tough' in order to do this but individuals and teams do need to be 'mentally strong' in order to be as resilient as possible.


There are a good number of contributory factors that build and sustain resilience in teams including ensuring that individuals are energised, have a future focus, can adapt to change proactively, are able to manage stress, have a strong framework to be able to focus on their goals, possess flexible thinking and foster strong relationships. One of the key aspects that threads through most, it not all, of these attributes, is that of strong trust. This is essential if you are going to build resilience, both in individuals, and across teams. You need to have trust between team members, between team members and team leaders and team managers and you also ensure strong trust between senior stakeholders and the team. If there are any breaks to the 'trust chain' then the team and individuals may well struggle to maintain resilience and hence effectiveness and results. It may also result in burnout.


So what can teams do to build trust across the team and beyond to its senior leadership stakeholders?


  1. Make sure there is a high trust across all the team members. Hold an initial 'needs and expectations' meeting where everyone in the team gets an opportunity to express openly their personal needs in relation to working in the team. What behaviours and attitudes do they need to see displayed by all team members? What are each team members' values? Openly highlighting these raises awareness across the teams of what behaviours and attitudes everyone needs to demonstrate and see demonstrated. Record these and build these into your team charter.

  2. Ensure that expectations between the team members and the team manager are explored and agreed. Many managers will highlight what they expect of the team in terms of processes, procedures and behaviours but few take the time to give the team members the opportunity to do similar and highlight what their expectations are of the manager. This is a 'two way street' and if trust is to be built between manager and the team then this exercise should take place. Again build the agreed outputs into the team charter.

  3. Build a stakeholder map and ensure you cover and include all the key stakeholders within your organisation that should be engaged and influenced into supporting the team to achieve its goals. Look at their level of influence within the organisation and also assess their level of interest in the team. Make sure you have a positive engagement plan so that all members of the team can influence their stakeholders proactively and gain their ongoing support. I am continually amazed as to how few teams go through this exercise. In fact too many teams operate within their own little 'bubble' and don't even think about engaging with seniority. Big mistake.

  4. Review , review , review! We know that regular review builds resilience and that review of team performance, the team charter and the team development plan can enhance trust, resilience and performance so make sure regular reviews are in the diary. Take time to regularly assess levels of trust both within the team and with the wilder organisation.

Trust is vital in teams and when trust is gained across the team and with senior stakeholders then (provided the team members have the right capabilities and stick to their 'charter') then the foundations of both resilience and performance are in place and the team can go on to achieve success.


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

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