— April 11, 2019
Setbacks and failures are inevitable. Even the most successful teams must learn how to cope with frustration and disappointment at one point or another. While it’s important for leaders and team members to be resilient in the face of adversity, simply counting on people to “keep calm and carry on” overlooks the importance of team culture in overcoming challenges.
Building resilient teams is a crucial element of success in today’s volatile global economy. Fortunately, there are a few easy strategies that can promote a positive team culture in the face of disappointment and unexpected changes. Here are some suggestions for developing the key characteristics of a resilient team.
Develop Skills to Build Confidence
Having confidence in one’s abilities is a key aspect of resilience. When people feel like they do something well, they are more engaged in their work and embrace innovative solutions. Facing a difficult situation is much more manageable when someone feels like they have the experience and ability to overcome it. If they lack confidence in their abilities, however, they can dwell on their failures. Challenges become “too big to manage” as uncertainty or even panic takes over.
By encouraging team members to improve and learn new skills, development programs provide the tools to become more confident. Promoting continuous learning also has the added benefit of keeping skills sharp and helping people adapt to new situations more easily. As people learn to utilize their knowledge and skills more frequently, they build the confidence to see challenges as opportunities rather than insurmountable obstacles.
Create a Sense of Purpose
No one wants to feel like the work they do doesn’t matter. If team members are simply “going through the motions” every day, they don’t have any special incentive to overcome challenges or setbacks. Laying out a set of objectives for teams to accomplish isn’t the same as providing them with a sense of purpose that communicates why those objectives are important. Successful, resilient teams are deeply committed to their goals because the work resonates with members on a personal level. When they are personally invested in the outcome, they will work harder to overcome obstacles and bounce back from adversity.
Providing teams with a sense of purpose can be difficult for leaders, but they can start by building relationships with team members and understanding what motivates them. This allows them to draw connections between each person’s values and the organization’s mission. Team members need to understand how their individual efforts contribute to a greater whole. When they recognize and value these connections, they will be more accountable to one another and more committed to overcoming challenges.
Provide a Support Network
Resilience is often thought of as an individual character trait, which can promote the idea that people must be singularly and solely devoted to overcoming challenges without any assistance. This overlooks the huge role that a strong support network can play in helping people to endure difficult situations and setbacks. In a team environment, the resilience of any one member won’t amount to much if the rest of the team feels overwhelmed and defeated.
It’s important for leaders to create a team culture that communicates effectively and provides support and feedback when faced with challenges. In some cases, this could mean recognizing that someone is overburdened with tasks and may need some help to get caught up. In other situations, simply being able to discuss challenges with fellow team members can help generate solutions and new ideas. These efforts can go a long way toward building resilience. Resilient teams understand that they succeed or fail on the strength of their collaborative efforts, which makes them much more likely to raise concerns when they’re present and provide help when it’s needed.
Encourage and Reward Adaptability
Adaptability and flexible thinking are critical to being resilient. Challenges come in many forms, and the solutions that proved effective in the past may not work in the future. Agile leaders understand that circumstances can change quickly and are always open to new ideas or approaches to solving problems. They can pass this same mentality down to team members when leading resilient teams, pushing them to look at situations from multiple perspectives to identify new or creative solutions.
Resilient teams promote an optimistic outlook that sees challenge as opportunity. Rather than demanding dogged adherence to existing ways of thinking, they actively encourage members to propose new ideas and rethink how they do their work. By constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve, resilient teams are better equipped to grapple with setbacks and other challenges when they occur.
Building resilient teams isn’t simply a matter of stocking them with the most resilient individuals. Effective teams embrace practices that help them to deal with challenges more effectively, building a team culture that views failures and setbacks as steps along a journey to success rather than endpoints. By making the effort to build confidence, promote skills development, provide social support, and reward adaptability, leaders can set their teams on the path to becoming more resilient.