Spearheading Mental Resilience:
Rising from Self Awareness to Team Awareness
Team bonding and engagement are factors that play a definite role in an organization’s overall growth, you’d agree. A dysfunctional team would always face hindrances towards achievement of yearly goals – resulting out of frequent transitions due to resignations and new joining or many undue distractions from work.
Given that, it takes a lot for a leader to attain harmony within a team to keep up the focus, agility and resilience.
Behavioral Change: Something to Think About and Admit
People need to invest their time in changing their behaviour. Most of us feel we will change our behavior only when someone tells us – our parent, spouse or manager. In that the case change may not be sustainable because it’s forced, and we don’t know the real cause of that behaviour so we try to play safe. Any behavioral change requires “Self-Awareness”, “Readiness” and “Motivation”.
What Behavioral Change Means in a Team
Sample this: Andy and Mathew, both members of the same team, had a horrible feedback in their annual appraisals. Their immediate reactions after receiving the remarks were similar – they were perplexed, disengaged and confined to self for a couple of days (Which is totally understandable right!!!!). While the anxiety about what happens next seemed to be killing both Andy and Mathew initially – they differed in their approach eventually.
Being their Manager, you did your job to counsel both of them one by one. Perhaps, you applied the same formula for handling the situation in both the cases. Guess what, the results were obviously not similar: Instead of succumbing to the situation, Andy told himself that he made a sincere effort but possibly his efforts did not fall in line with the organization’s expectations. He admitted the lacking alignment but did not lose his self-confidence. To validate, he underwent several tests, interviews and self-evaluation sessions. After performing well, he decided to move on to another organization and discussed this with you. You managed to motivate and retain him. It shows that he was resilient enough to handle the situation.
Mathew, on the other hand, slipped into a state of despair and low self-esteem. He began to blame himself for all the wrong that happened. He developed a state of insecurity. Became defensive about everything when questioned by you or even other members in the team. Despite retrievals and retention – he could not pay attention to improving his performance or finding another job. He left the organization, and ultimately chose a break.
Here, Andy and Mathew ended up into two extremes – Andy grew up in the ladder and Mathew went down the graph. The question is – where lay the difference, and what different you could have tried as their Manager instead of trying the same prescription for everyone? Humans are a complex set of beings, remember!!
The answer lies in Resilience. We earlier talked about Mental resilience and its Ultimate Benefits for Individuals, in another post. In the current one, let’s dig beyond the surface level and understand how a true leader could avert Mathew’s situation, for instance, and convert it into an opportunity for a better team performance.
Building Team Resilience: What A Leader Needs to Understand
Rise Above the Myths Around Emotions –
Emotions have a critical role to play in shaping an individual’s performance at the workplace. While this may sound a bit too harsh to those who see professionalism and emotions at two different tangents in a workplace. However, leaders must rise above this myth that “there is no place for emotions at work”. They must not forget that we are humans and not zombies. Any undue suppression of emotions erupted out of a workplace issue can lead to distortion in an employee’s personal life. And, this can have cascading effects. So, for a leader, it becomes imperative to watch out for signs of concern in team mates- when they indirectly try to convey something. The question to ask yourself is “ How mindful are you when it comes to your own emotions as well as those of your direct reports.”
Learn to Face Confrontation-
As team lead, you must try to learn how you will handle confrontation from your team subordinates. This is a very common tendency in Managers to stick to safer topics such as coordination of team, functional areas or day to day business chores. But this “play safe” technique might often magnify the problem rather than solving it. So, as a leader, you need to gather more courage and learn to express compassion towards guiding each of the members through the difficult phases.
How to Build and Raise the Resilience Quotient for your Team
Mental Resilience – whether being developed or practiced at an individual or a team level – entails a series of structured and consistent efforts. For you as a leader it would mean you need a lot of preparation – what to do when everything is okay or when a specific team member has an emotional outbreak. As John Maxwell rightly said “A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”
Small Changes that Can Bring About Resilience
1. Develop the culture of active communication
2. Encourage open communication by letting the team members exchange opinions periodically.
3. Develop a genuine listening culture: when a person talks nobody interrupts.
4. Encourage each team member to share his goals and self-expectations.
5. Propagate productive open discussion “Not Labeling” and constructive feedback.
What you Should Do When you Sense a Team Member Could Burst Out
The emotions of each of the members in a team will vary in a given situation. We discussed how Andy and Mathew reacted to career setbacks. Similarly, while one will say it outrightly that “I am frustrated…”, another will just not speak up. As soon as you identify something is bothering your team member, you must begin your job.
Take them out for a coffee or lunch. Start normal conversation; show them you are really curious about their life.
Find their Real Passion –
By asking some empowering open-ended questions, you can find out what is really important to them. Ask them about to clearly define that compelling vision for the future that will also include powerful and transforming relations with their friends, family and employee. So, discuss not only work-related issues but also things that matter to them in personal lives.
Understand What is Really Going on –
You must listen carefully and again with lot of curiosity and keeping the judgement aside – what’s the current state of their life, what is leading to frustration. This way they will feel they are being heard. Circling back to their vision – draw out their strength, (which you must already be aware of). It’s important to work with their inherent strength. Tell them that you will support them. Thank them for their trust and for confiding.
As Daniel Goleman writes “collective emotional intelligence is what sets top-preforming teams apart from average teams”, it important that a leader admits emotions are important. So, don’t ignore “Emotions”. Emotions can give you clues that the matter you are discussing is something the person truly values or strongly believes in. So, the question is how can you, as an Emotionally Intelligent leader, find someone’s core values and enhance them to help your team member become more resilient and a better version of himself.