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

Build Your Team Capability – Team Resilience at Work…

 ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’

– Ken Blanchard

What exactly do we mean by a team’s capability?

A team cannot be truly effective if doesn’t cultivate feedback loops and access to different support networks outside the team to extend their existing capability.  Both shape the capability dimension of team resilience.  This is an aspect of team resilience we all know but how well do we collectively do it in our own teams?


What practical ways can you build your team’s capability?


  • 1. Ask for and act on team feedback

Without some way of finding out how your team is operating and against everchanging environmenal factors, your team runs the risk of becoming out of touch.

Identify first your team’s key stakeholders.  Team clients are evidently stakeholders but who else does your team connect with who are key  in delivering your work?  In addition to the customers they directly serve, teams may have a wide variety of  relationships both within and outside the organisation inclusive of other teams/departments, suppliers, sectoral and other stakeholders.

Think also about what  you currently have in place to gather intelligence from key stakeholders.  What do you not know but would like to know in stakeholder feedback about the team’s performance?

There may also be other ways of assessing team performance within their market or sector using quantitative data or other relevant benchmarks for your team’s sector.

Seeking feedback is one thing but also consider how you work in your team to respond and act on it for it to be meaningful and helpful to both the team and their stakeholders.

  • 2. Build team capability through networks

In demanding financial times where the recruitment of additional team members is not always possible to meet the team’s needs, the team may need to lever additional guidance, support or resources from other networks and relationships.  Support networks and relationships can have a variety of purposes for the team.  Sample networks a team could connect to include:

–  Professional bodies relevant to the team’s roles and work.

– Partnerships or networks relevant to your area of work or your sector.

– Communities of  practice which are sources of professional or technical advice.

– Networking initiatives or industry events  for teams / professionals working in your field.

  • 3. Develop team member access to support and advice

Having a number of ways for you team to build their capability is vital to building team resilience in this area.   Even the best team leader cannot be be all things to all people and the sole source of support for the team .

Discuss and raise awareness within the team of different sources of support available to team members from both inside and outside the team.  This could include identifying such things as mentoring, training, coaching, debriefing support, technical and industry advice to support their access to wider networks.

  • 4. Take responsibility for building your own professional networks

Take time out in your team to discuss what knowledge, skill and support the team requires and work then on developing useful relationships with other individuals or organisations.

Sometimes, making small connections with different networks or sources of support can make a big difference for the team.  For example, when I worked as a CEO, informal coffee meetings with a fellow CEO I had met through a leadership network for our sector  was an invaluable connection offering ongoing knowledge and mutual support.

If leading a team, know where you can go to personally connect for support and encourage teams members to explore and build their support networks.


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.

Source: 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)

Is your team as resourceful as Aesop’s Crow?

On the hottest of days, the Crow dying of thirst, stumbled upon a pitcher of cool water.  The pitcher was high and had a narrow neck.  No matter how hard he tried, the Crow could not reach the water.

Then, an idea came to him. Picking up some small pebbles, he dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it was near enough so he could drink.

Aesop’s Fables are wonderfully short but everlasting on wisdom.  Just like Aesop’s Crow, we see often see impressive agility and creativity in teams.  Resourcefulness is another essential aspect of team resilience but what does it look like in everyday teamwork?

What makes a team ‘resourceful’?

A resourceful team will really harness team member strengths and resources whilst nurturing a culture of continuous improvement.  The team will also have effective ways of working that enable it focus clearly on priorities.

There are many things which help a team to enhance its resourcefulness as we can see below

How can you develop your team to be more resourceful?

An excellent starting point to gauge just how resourceful your team is this checklist of key questions to ask about your team.

  1. How do we optimise our team resources when work is unpredictable?  A team optimises resources best to it’s agreed priorities, not just what pops up.
  2. How do we manage underperformance in the team?  How do we use underutilised resources in the team?  Ignoring or glazing over team members not pulling their weight can cause resentment in the team. Fostering clear lines of individual and mutual accountability for results enhances teams.
  3. How we pull and share resources across our own team / with other teams?  Knowing the strengths, qualities and talents within our team to draw on is central to navigating challenge.
  4. What is our attitude like to change: are we nimble in responding to changes around us?   Rather than seeing people ‘for’ or ‘against’ change, talk as a team instead about how you can build flexibility to solve new issues and situations.
  5. How good is our team at creating a climate of continuous improvement?  Resilient teams not only look at how they adapt to change but also for how they can drive it. How do we process changes (e.g., political, financial, social, environmental factors) which impact on the team’s work?  Sharing ideas, innovations and review how the team deliver on outcomes is a key here.
  6. How do we manage our workloads? Unrealistic expectations about capacity to deliver can quickly demotivate a team.  Creating a healthy team environment where we can raise and safely discuss issues of capacity serves a team well.

To learn more to help your team…

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



Source: Resilience at Work TM


Team Resilience – the ‘Robust’ Team

Team Resilience at Work – the Robust Team

It’s a story many of us know but it’s a good one.  During a visit to the NASA Space Centre in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”

“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

It is an unexpected and memorable reply!  What the janitor’s answer demonstrated was a deep-rooted sense of shared team purpose.

What makes a ‘robust’ team? 

A robust team is aligned in their purpose and goals as well as being quick to adapt to change and work through setbacks.

What can you do to strengthen your team to be ‘robust’?

In leading your team, key things to observe to see how well the team:

  1. Understand the ‘why’ of their work.  Do they know both where their personal and team role directly helps the wider organisation?  How well do they link their team contribution to the success and impact of the whole organisation?  Knowing how their value, input and achievements as a team in this wider context helps team resilience.
  2. Know exactly why their team was created, who they serve and are accountable to.
  3. Work to shared values and mission. Do the team’s values actually influence how they communicate, make decisions and behaviours?  How are values shared and communicated within the team?  If you are leading the team, how are you living and modelling team values?
  4. Connect and work on shared goals. How are different team members’ effort, performance and time allocation on shared goals?  Are members of the team carrying others?  Is there accountability for delivering built in across the team?
  5. Are able to deliver on their purpose with the necessary skills and knowledge. A team’s capabilities and talent need to flex to meet shifting demands.
  6. Navigate team ‘skeletons’.  What elephants are in the team room which might stop the team from aligning and delivering on its purpose and goals? Resolving issues is not solely a team leader’s problem.  Promote where possible joint responsibility for resolving team issues.

In short, robust teams have solid intention with agility.  How would you rate this in yours?  In our next blog we will be unpacking the next vital team resilience factor resourcefulness!

To learn more to help your team…

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

Source: Leading for Resilience Workbook, Kathryn McEwen, Working with Resilience

A Powerful Team Resilience Framework to Help Any Team

Anyone who has led a team will recognise these ‘ 3 am and still awake’ signs:
• Mulling over that team problem
• Rewinding conversations with the team
• Phrasing emails you will compose on waking

This list could go on! What these signs are telling you is that you are most definitely under team strain. Hard-working team leaders can find it hard to recognise their own limits. They listen, absorb and try to resolve so many issues with so many.

These signs however are also warning signs that there could be a better way for everyone. Rather than a team leader simply gets better at navigating more, what if the team could?

What exactly is team resilience?

Team resilience – like individual resilience – is a layered and nuanced concept. The three key themes of resilience are:
i. Mastering stress
ii. Adapting to change
iii. Being pro-active

Our resilience can be challenged in many different ways. People and teams will also respond very differently to the same challenge. One of the best definitions of team resilience is:

‘‘The capacity of a group of employees to collectively manage the everyday pressures of work and remain healthy, adapt to change and be pro-active in positioning for future challenges.’ – Working with Resilience

A powerful framework to guide you and your team

We can delve even further below these key themes to explore the seven areas they cover which shape our team resilience at work (R@W); a teaser of the R@W 7 above!  In each of our next seven blog posts this month, we will unpack for you a vital factor of team resilience.

We want to spotlight what you and your team are already doing well for team resilience. We want also to offer you insights, tips and small steps to boost your team.  Later this week, we zone in on our first team resilience factor, the robust team!  Find out more from our next blog post on team resilience.

For more information on how we help overwhelmed teams build resilience, click here

Source: Leading for Resilience Workbook, Kathryn McEwen, Working with Resilience




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