How connected does your team feel? Team resilience at work…

Ever worked in a team where you feel that no matter what you do, your ‘face doesn’t fit’ or that you were just a number?   Contrast this with the times you have worked in your favourite teams where you felt you felt connected and that you mattered as a person.  How do these two situations make you feel?

Resilient teams feel a sense of connection with each other. In the sixth of our 7-day blog on what makes teams resilient, we unpack the importance of team connection as a key ingredient of the team resilience ‘mix’.


What does a ‘connected’ team look and feel like?

In exploring this element of team resilience, the quote below summarise the key elements of team connection:

“Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging.” – Deepak Chopra

Team connection links to team self-care and very simply a resilient connected team will care for each other as people, acting co-operatively and supportively with each other.  When we feel we are a part of something and belong, this in itself builds resilience.


What can we do to build more connected teams?


  • 1.Help people feel that they belong in your team

Being welcoming and inclusive is key but how does this look like in the everyday life of your team?  This can range from something as simple as how people greet each other in work to the opportunities you have in your team to sharing time to chat informally and know more about each other as people.  What do we do in our team to make everyone feel included?  Thinking about everyone’s experience of team life and how they are made to feel part of it is key to belonging.


  • 2. Promote a sense of organisational belonging

Our team is our immediate world in work but how are team members connected to the wider organisation?  In many workplaces this can be done from sharing the same uniform, branding through to social events and other workplace programmes any team can connect to.   Ensuring team members have some form of connection to the wider work of the organisation helps a sense of belonging.


  • 3. Identify what mutual team support looks like in your team

How do we really help each other out in our team?  Really connected teams will easily spot when someone is drowning not waving and readily offer support without being asked.  Sample ways we do this, sometimes even without thinking, include:

  • Helping a colleague with other work when they have a deadline.
  • Debriefing in a safe space if someone has experienced a hard day or difficult incident.
  • Sharing knowledge or perspectives you know will help a colleague.
  • Advice on how to navigate work politics or systems.
  • Just being there as a listening ear for emotional support when the chips are down.

A note of caution here is important.  Is an ethos of mutual support shared collectively across the team?  If not checked, you may find that naturally accommodating team members will eventually tire if shared support is one-way only with some colleagues; reciprocity is essential for the connected team.


  • 4. Enable ‘confident vulnerability’

Sometimes we carry things too long and struggle because we see asking for help as a sign of our own perceived inadequacies or lack of competency.  We may also find ourselves in environments when showing any vulnerability could lead to judgement by others.  Or, we may find that feeling below par or not on top of things at work is due to something major happening in our personal lives outside work.

To establish a culture in your team where ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ and where team members feel genuinely comfortable sharing appropriately times of vulnerability takes work and ‘living it’ as modelled by team leaders.

Starting a conversation in your team about areas where they feel aspects of inadequacy and might need help from other team members is a solid starting point.


  • 5. Appreciate that people have lives outside work

Work-life balance featured as a key element of resilience in team self-care in our fourth blog.  Things happen in our lives outside work beyond our control which could require flexibility in our team and work life.

A connected team from camaraderie will have some shared knowledge about their colleagues’ lives and demands outside work.  During tough personal times, connected teams will accommodate and help colleagues.  Teams also however need to set a time limit where they can review flexible support to accommodate the personal to balance team performance and accountability.

However, we all remember those times when colleagues helped us through choppy waters and it is in precisely those times when we feel we are valued and cared for, the bedrock of a connected and resilient team.


To learn more to help your team…

For additional information on how team resilience workshops, team resilience assessment and team coaching could work for your team, click here.



 Leading for Resilience Workbook, Kathryn McEwen, Working with Resilience

Team Resilience at Work – Team Perseverance

What do we mean when we talk about team perseverance?

Staying optimistic, solutions-focused, navigating difficult curveballs and managing emotions within the team all contribute to team perseverance. It’s not all about the negative.  Teams which celebrate the good times and enjoy fun and laughter are also those teams who persevere.

How can you nurture more team perseverance?

Protect and nurture team leaders’ optimism

A team draws optimism from their team leaders and managers.  What happen when the team leader’s well is dry?  How are they supported to bring the optimism?  All team leaders need a genuinely safe space and support to work through their own doubts before they can bring it.  Creating this safe space for team leaders and managers is crucial.

Exercise realistic optimism

To maintain team optimism, you need to know what their job involves and the real issues they are facing and worried about.  We can wish for the best outcome as much as we want but if this doesn’t connect with reality, ambitious visions for a team instead becoming demotivating.

Know what you can control and make a difference in

Teams can find themselves thrown into fraught situations due to external factors (e.g., such as industry changes) which they cannot control.  Feeling powerless in such situations can quickly deplete team energy and resilience. Knowing what to persist with and how long is key to deciding how far you take something as a team or let it go when facing a set-back.

Think carefully within your team what you can collectively influence. Resilient, persevering teams work hard to focus on what they can do rather than is beyond their sphere of influence.

Harness humour

No matter how weighty or serious your team’s work is, if you don’t have ways within your team to help you lighten up or if humour is something which doesn’t feature, think again. Moments of fun and humour help a team persevere even in the darker moments. What are the opportunities in your team to have fun, lighten up and cement team connections?

Manage emotional contagion

In difficult times when team energy and motivation is low, negativity can quickly ripple and affect the whole team from only one or two cynical colleagues.

Vital to remember, creating the space for genuine critique is healthy and essential in teams and very different to the contagion of pessimism.  The ever-pessimistic teammate always has someone else to blame, quickly highlight past failures or always responds ‘that will never work’ at every new idea.

Be aware of and limit airtime given or your exposure to perennially pessimistic colleagues.  You may never change their mind but you can change how much impact they have on you and others.

The art of problem-solving

A team is collective of many assets, perspectives and talents.  If a team is to persevere and overcome tough times, spaces where the team can step back, discuss problems, ask questions.

There is a rich array of problem-solving and decision-making tools which teams can use to tackle problems together and bringing out the best in the team’s skills and experience. Think about how you can apply these in your team discussions.

How we about difficulty in our team makes a difference.  Rather than stay in the ‘this is dreadful’ space, kickstart solution-focused thinking with curious and powerful team questions such as:

  • What’s the first step we could take to fix this?
  • What have we done in other situations which has worked before and might help?
  • Who else can support our work in this?
  • What other inputs would be useful to move this forward?
  • What parts of this problem can we explore ideas on together now?
  • What could we commit to doing today in our meeting to shift things forward?

To learn more to help your team…

We work with teams to build their resilience and every team is different. For additional information on how team resilience workshops, resilience assessment and coaching could work for your team, click here.


Source:  McEwen, Kathryn, Building Team Resilience,(2017)

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