Team resilience and wellbeing

What if the goal of the team you worked with was to continually contribute to a collective resilience and wellbeing? What if that became priority number one for all teams, what do you think might happen? Why do you think it should be the number one priority?

Well now, there is a fair amount of evidence to show that if we deal with staff resilience and wellbeing first, then employee performance is to put it quite simply …..better.

This has been said many times by a whole range of academics, business experts, employers and politicians. It is said in many ways by the staff themselves, explicitly by stating the workplace is making them unwell, or,  implicitly by having to take time off work, performance decreasing, and by making mistakes.

A lovely study undertaken a few years ago by the unlikely bedfellows of the DoH and BiC clearly demonstrated the positive benefits about employee wellbeing, (engaged workforce, improved recruitment and retention, enhanced customer/client service, fewer errors), research conducted by luminaries such as Michael West and Cary Carter clearly state that from the NHS to Banking, we need to look after the resilience and wellbeing of our staff or all else will suffer.

For some years now I have been fascinated about resilience and wellbeing, the research I have undertaken has informed the programmes I have developed, and each time the programmes run, I know that there will be two key ‘aha’ moments. The first will relate to the individual when they get some traction on their own resilience and wellbeing at work, and the second is with team resilience and wellbeing.  With the latter there is an almost a nervous realisation of how individual resilience and wellbeing affects the team we work with, and how that of others affects us. The vulnerability people feel when they see how their resilience and wellbeing state can be surfaced, is made palatable by the fact everyone in the team is feeling the same exposure, and by laying this out gently and respectfully, real opportunities emerge for teams to set team resilience and wellbeing as the number one priority.

Creating and sustaining a team culture of resilience and wellbeing is something that requires effort. Coming on the Resilience and Wellbeing programme might well light the blue touch paper of awakening and enthusiasm, this is a great start, but to keep this going in the long term team, members need to check in with each other and practically and explicitly help. Why do we need to do this? Well we are creatures of habit. Our collective ‘team brain’ needs rewiring and this takes both time and repeated practice, especially if the team is being jostled by change initiatives and competing urgent demands. This can be achieved by ensuring team norms and values reflect the resilient and wellbeing goal, and these can be applied by asking each other  ‘how are we? how resilient do we feel today? how well do we feel today? This then has to be followed up by action, so that team members repeatedly create the environment to improve resilience and wellbeing for each other. The whole identity of the team is transformed as the highest value is now accorded to the team, the work the team does flows from that and is also transformed by the improved sense of value felt by the team. It is a wonderful  recursive loop that can anchor teams who find themselves in the stormy seas of change.