Respect and Engagement Define Workgroup Resiliency

As budget constraints in the public and private sectors puts pressure on workgroups, some pull together to thrive while others stumble. The difference between these two outcomes is often a matter of workgroup resiliency.

A defining quality of a resilient workgroup is the capacity of its members to call upon one another for information, expertise, or assistance. At times, colleagues are a critical source of emotional support as well. Workgroups in which people actively call upon one another have greater resilience. That means that when times get tough their people have access to more resources to address the challenges of the moment. Individuals are not left to their own devices, but have a broader range of capacities to call upon.

People share with those whom they trust. It does not make sense to give generously to people with dubious intentions or with a history of working against your own interests. On the other side, people look for help from those they trust. It gives them confidence that the response will be genuine. Trust is a foundation for a resilient workgroup.

Workgroup trust has two underlying dimensions: respect and engagement.

Respect occurs on the micro-level of day-to-day interactions among people within the workgroup. It remains separate from lofty statements of ideals. Respect resides in the ordinary encounters among people as they do their work. The civility and attention evident in the way they speak and, especially, in the way they listen define this quality of workgroups.

The second dimension, engagement, reflects the group’s involvement in the core mission. The fundamentals of engagement—energy, involvement, and effectiveness—acknowledges that the team’s work provides the primary reason for being together.

A workgroup characterized by respect and engagement has greater capacity to withstand the disruptions of organizational life. When under pressure, a workgroup that responds with integrated action has a much greater chance of surviving and thriving.

So, how resilient is your workgroup?

What are your plans for improving that level of resiliency?


  1. Dear Dr. Leiter:

    It’s a great help to have a conceptualization of workgroup resiliency in terms of respect and engagement.

    Now I have another reason to insist in respect, as a core value within our workgroup. Today, al members are spread across the institution, but now I’ve noticed that we always maintain respect, and when we eventually colaborate it’s easy to work together and keep a good performance level.

  2. Heriberto

    Respect is such a valuable resource. When team members are confident in the one another’s abilities and willingness to contribute, the team has a much greater capacity to address the challenges that will surely come their way.

    You are fortunate to belong to such a team.

Leave a Reply