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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Development

This blog continues the discussion on how to create a resilient team culture that is able to respond positively to the inevitable changes in the internal and external environments that characterise modern workplaces.

In the previous blog we discussed the key elements for leaders to:

1. Demonstrate their leadership by building self awareness and role modelling positive behaviours

2. The importance of communication as a tool to create resilient teams.

Following on from this, the below details the importance of delivering on your promises, ensuring continual development and nurturing of relationships.

DELIVER

10. Navigate the path forward for your team. Work together to identify the key challenges, risks and milestonesahead. 

Break major goals down into manageable steps and manage the risks through analysis, scenario-planning, tracking and other sensible responses. Having a plan, particularly in periods of uncertainty, reduces anxiety that undermines team resilience.  Even where you are part of a larger organisation, as a team leader develop a plan with your team that they can focus on.

11. Help people get back to work, doing what they do best. 

Business continuity is important not just for the organisation and its customers. Routine and familiar tasks can be comforting in times of stress or adversity and help to restore a sense of ‘normality’ and self-confidence within your team.

12. Celebrate the wins when you do deliver.

Even small wins can be beneficial – remind yourself and everyone else in the team to reflect on what has been achieved.  Celebrating successes can increase motivation and remind everyone of their contributions and abilities to perform – even under pressure!

DEVELOP YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM

13. Be creative in identifying opportunities to develop your own skills and that of your team. 

Encourage mentoring within the team and/or offer ‘stretch’ assignments to team members.  The most resilient teams often have overlapping skills sets which creates capacity and flexibility.  Flexibility in role leads to flexibility in thoughts and approaches which will strengthen your team.

14. Provide opportunities for team members to undertake additional learning and encourage them share it with everyone else. 

It doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Look for a return on the investment for the whole group, particularly where they bring new ideas to the team. You might ask some members to do some internet research on a pertinent topic. Other development options can include project work, relieving and formal training.

15. Encourage diversity of thought – it is the key to innovation. 

Cultivate a team culture of sharing new ideas and providing respectful feedback. Encourage members to challenge assumptions that aren’t evidence-based to foster different and creative ways of thinking and doing things.

INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS

16. Actively nurture internal and external networks, including support networks for the team.

People need time out to feel socially connected in tough times. Celebrate team and individual achievements and other happy occasions through informal get-togethers.

17. Identify opportunity to collaborate with other teams and stakeholders and deliberately construct ‘buy in’opportunities

Cultivate as many positive relationships as you can to build support for your team.  Being able to connect with others is critical and strong and constructive relationships need to be a priority investment.   Building relationships and maintaining the ability to connect with others, particularly during difficult periods will role model positive workplace behaviours that will sustain your teams through both good times and challenging periods!

For more great ideas about how to team build team resilience, please contact us.

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As I’ve travelled around Australia this year, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked by   middle and senior managers (with varying degrees of desperation) is: ‘How can we build more resilient teams?’

It’s a good question and in response here is the first of a 2-part blog specifically focusing on how to build and maintain resilient teams. 

This year I have worked with organisations that have undergone significant organisational change processes, economic downturns, leadership changes, major IT implementations and even rapid expansion. 

Each factor has had a significant impact on the workplace and has put teams under pressure.

Undoubtedly, teams with low resilience can cost organisations many thousands of dollars in lost revenue through missed opportunities, more frequent and serious errors, increased sick leave and greater staff turnover.  

Sometimes poor team resilience causes internal divisions and personal resentments that go on for weeks, months or even years. Not surprisingly, the quality, creativity and timeliness of the team’s output suffers and the negative cycle continues in a downward spiral.

So what can you do to create or strengthen team resilience?

Here’s some practical ideas that can help:

LEAD

1. Start with your own resilience.  

Be self-aware of your own level of resilience. Understand your triggers and proactively monitor how well your own strategies are working. Identify and develop positive habits that will support you during challenging periods.

2. Role-model the positive behaviours you want to see in others.  

You set the standard of behaviour for your team, so demonstrate your ability to keep your own emotional responses to challenges under control at work. Use positive communication and demonstrate problem solving techniques that are optimistic and constructive. Role model flexibility and agility in decision making and show pride and accountability in your work. Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Show you team that you don’t just bounce back – you bounce forward!

3. Encourage flexibility and autonomy wherever possibleso your team members feel moreempowered.  

Times of change can make people feel like they have lost control over their future,so devolve decision-making wherever you can*. Show your team that you trust them, have faith in their abilities and want them to be resourceful so they can grow and succeed. Encourage team and individual problem-solving to enhance their self-confidence, accountability and job satisfaction.

4. Recognise and reward people who experiment and show initiative.  

If a team member tries something new and fails, be supportive. Ask them what they learned from the experience and what they’d do differently next time. Don’t underestimate the power of these opportunities to build trust.

COMMUNICATE

5. Help your team members adapt to change, by actively listening.

Engage in honest and open discussion with team members, individually and as a group. Invest time really listening to your team during tough times. Focus on your verbal and non verbal communication.

6. Use positive language and humour (where appropriate) to build team cohesion. Discourage negative language, snap judgements and black-and-whitethinking patterns.  

Challenge undermining behaviours such as defensiveness, gossip, eye-rolling or finger-pointing.  Develop the confidence to have those difficult conversations with team members who undermine individual or team resilience.  Ignoring or turning a blind eye to destructive communication habits is very dangerous!  

7. Meet with your team often.  

Be visible and present! Team members need and want to hear from their leader when they are facing uncertainty or adversity. Clarify roles, priorities and goals of the team. In times of significant organisational change or upheaval, calmly share whatever new and relevant information you can, as soon as you can. Ditch the management-speak. There’s no need to  ‘drill down’, ‘climb the strategic staircase’ or ‘cascade relevant information’ – just talk in plain English.  

8. Deal with issues as they arise.

Resilient teams work collaboratively and are characterised by mutual trust and support. They are not afraid to admit weaknesses and mistakes and ask for help when they need it. Encourage team members to talk through any current or emerging issues before they start to catastrophise and snowball matters to impossible levels.

9. Acknowledge even the small achievements of team members and look for opportunities to acknowledge progress. 

Remember to say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’. Everyone needs to feel valued and that their work has meaning and purpose, no matter how junior their role or seemingly mundane their task. Remind all team members, individually and together, how their work helps the organisation, community and/or customers.

* Research undertaken by Blessing and White and published in A Study of Voluntary Effort in the Work Force (1996) found that old-fashioned ‘command and control’ work environments don’t encourage people to think for themselves and create ‘learned helplessness’ in staff.  Ten years later, another study of 320 small businesses conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that businesses that gave their staff autonomy grew four times faster than those that didn’t. Source: http://www.workingatmcmaster.ca/med/document/facilitating-resilience-in-the-workplace-1-37.pdf

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All successful organisations know that developing employees makes good business sense.  However tight economic times have put training budgets under pressure. Fortunately there are a range of options organisations can explore to improve the skill sets of their teams.

The key to ensuring a good return on your development dollar is to ensure programs are focused on:

  • What are the gaps in the business that training and development can impact on?
  • How will the training add value to the business?
  • Which team members will benefit most?
  • What format of development activities best suits both the organisation and the learner? 
  • How will we evaluate the learning and development activity?

 

Why developing your staff makes sense

Training helps organisations run better

Trained employees will be better equipped to manage technology improvements, handle customers, keep up to date with legislative changes and perform their duties safely for example. 

A learning and development culture is a recruiting tool

Staff members are looking to develop their skills now that many people are working for longer periods. Similarly, research shows younger workers are more likely to be recruited to organisations that can demonstrate ongoing learning values. In short, you are more likely to attract and keep good employees if you can offer development opportunities.  

Investing in your people builds loyalty

Well thought through learning programs send a clear message to your teams that you value them enough to invest in them. 

Learning and development promotes job satisfaction

Nurturing employees to develop more rounded skill sets will help them contribute to the company. The more engaged and involved they are in working for your success, the better your rewards.

Training is a retention tool, instilling commitment from good workers

Team members who may be looking to pursue their next challenge will be more likely to stay if you offer ways for them to learn and grow while with your organisation. This directly affects costs and disruptions through reduced turnover.

Training adds flexibility and efficiency

You can cross-train employees to be capable in more than one area of the organisation. This flexibility can be applied horizontally and vertically. Succession planning across the organisation and in management structures can be facilitated through targeted learning programs. The organisation is risk managing around absence and the team member is being challenged by developing valuable new skills. Cross-training also fosters team spirit, as team members can begin to appreciate the challenges faced by co-workers in a new light!

Development and training is essential for knowledge transfer

It's very important to share knowledge among your staff. If only one person has special skills, you'll have a tough time recouping their knowledge if they suddenly leave the company. Spread knowledge around — it's like diversifying your investments.
 

What options are available to develop staff?

  • Group training - delivered in house/with other organisations by internal trainers/external providers.
  • elearning programs conducted both internally and externally
  • Mentoring – structured or informal programs.  Internal/External mentors can be involved
  • Job rotation
  • Work shadowing
  • Self study – Partial or full sponsorship for staff undertaking external programs with relevance to the business.  Study leave options for staff in lieu of financial support.
  • Peer training
  • Opportunities to grow skill sets through projects
  • 1:1 training programs
  • Cross organisational training – developing relationships with other organisations to provide opportunities to staff members to learn skills in other businesses.

Choosing the right program structure will depend on your team members, your operational requirements and the learning outcomes you are seeking.

For more information on options for learning and development in your organisation, please contact us. 

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