Our work helping workgroups improve their working relationships has taught some valuable lessons about how groups change for the better. Sharing power, focusing on the positive, and committing to the long run characterize teams that have been effective in bringing about meaningful change.
Share Power. Team members insist upon an active role in making things happen. Resilience reflects confidence. Resilience builds upon experiences of actually doing things. Being on the receiving end of someone else’s great idea can be entertaining, but it does little to build resilience.
For an intervention to build resilience within a team, it’s essential that team members to feel that they are running the show.
For some leaders, sharing power in this way is tough. A lot of people in leadership positions got there through their sense of control. Sharing control with team members is one of the great learning experience for leaders, developing their resilience along the way.
Focus on the Positive. Working towards a goal has a lot more potential than working away from problems. Resilience does not suggest a world free of problems. Resilience acknowledges the inevitability of problems by building the capacity to respond to them effectively.
Respect is much more than the absence of rude or inconsiderate behavior. Respect requires actively attending to others, appreciating their personal qualities, and maintaining a mutual regard.
Focusing on the positive helps a group to identify specific things to do. The absence of problems may simply reflect being fortunate that nothing bad happened this week. However, effective work and sensitive interactions only occur when people make the effort to make things happen.
Commit to the Long Run. Meaningful change takes time. Although people gain insight in an instant, translating that insight into behavior has a whole other time frame. For resilience to have a solid foundation, people need to successfully manage challenges.
For respect to become an enduring quality of social encounters at work, people need to practice ways of interacting based on listening closely and responding sensitively.
Making it Happen
Improving team resilience and respect requires more than enthusiasm. Efforts are much more effective when they build upon a solid strategy. Resistance to change often reflects strategies that fail to appreciate the way people work. Successful initiatives convey respect for team members’ potential for resilience.