Leadership & Management

Focus on the Team Resilience Your Team Needs Most

By John Estafanous

ceo & founder, RallyBright

October 9, 2019

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Here we are at the last quarter of 2019. And that means time is running out to get done what you promised yourself you’d do by the end of the year.

If you lead a team, how to set it up for success is probably on your mind quite a bit. And the best way to do this is to give your team members the tools and resources to help them build greater team resilience. What do I mean by resilience when we’re talking about workplace teams? I mean teams that engage deeply with opportunity, persevere through challenges, rebound quickly after setbacks and embrace the growth that comes from mistakes.

Here at RallyBright we see five key attributes that work together to create team resilience. We discovered these magic five over decades of studying high-performing teams across industries and job functions. Here’s a quick rundown of what they are and how to tell if your team has them:

Direction

We define direction as clarity of team purpose, a unified vision of team brand, and agreement on core team behaviors. Teams that have strong direction move towards the same goals as a collective unit. They come across as purposeful, priority-minded and collaborative.

For a quick pulse on your team’s direction: Ask each member to jot down what they see as the team’s shared purpose. Sharing and discussing these responses can help your team sharpen its focus on its mission and get on the same page about what team success looks like.

Connection

Connection is a commitment to and investment in the good of the whole team across all team members, as well as the abilities to communicate well and resolve conflict productively. Highly connected team members know that they can do more together than they can on their own. They trust one another, have psychological safety and are open to productive conflict.

To determine the health of connection on your team: Take a closer look at interpersonal behavior. If some team members seem reticent to ask for help, uncomfortable speaking their minds or engaged in passive-aggressive behavior, your team may need help handling conflict productively.

Alignment

Alignment is being in agreement about the needs of customers and other stakeholders. It’s also having a common view of the strategy of the larger organization the team works within. Finally, aligned teams are able to adapt to meet changing needs without drama.

For stronger alignment: It’s hard to be aligned with the teams beyond your own team if you never ask them for feedback. If you aren’t doing so already, ask other teams in your organization how your team can better support them. This is a great chance to get an outside perspective on your team’s performance.

Attitude

An attitude that sets teams up for resilience is characterized by a competitive spirit, energy and optimism. Teams that shine in the attitude department have team members who bring a “can-do” attitude to work. They’re willing to adapt, grow and learn with transparency.

One way to assess the strength of your team’s attitude: Look at how they approach risk. Is there a sense on your team that you can all brainstorm freely? That you can experiment with ideas and test strategies that may fail? If not, you as a leader can take steps to encourage a more risk-tolerant culture, including signaling your attitude about risk through very intentional language.

Performance

We define the performance attribute as the ability to regularly meet or exceed goals. High-performing teams consistently deliver results, act with agility, and show a significant bias for action.

But performance also goes beyond the numbers, to process. To assess your team’s performance-related processes, ask yourself the following: Are your team meetings productive? Can the group discuss issues and make related decisions quickly? Are the talents and expertise of all of its members in play? These are some of the issues that prevent high-performing teams from continuing to perform quarter after quarter.

Focus on the most important attributes for your team type

Remember, high team resilience is the result of strength across all five of the above attributes. That said, one or two of these attributes is likely more important than the others for the specific team you lead or work within. And those are the team resilience attributes where you should be focusing most of your energies — especially at crunch times like Q4.

So here’s your cheat sheet on building greater team resilience. After working with more than 600 teams, we’ve found the following to be the most important and second-most important attributes by team type:

Leadership teams: direction and attitude

It’s no surprise that leadership teams set the tone for their entire organizations — in both mission and attitude. The most important thing a leadership team can do is to share a crystal-clear vision and purpose and ensure it rolls down from them across the entire organization. After that, possessing an attitude that embraces constant and fast learning, growth and change is the secret sauce that propels leadership teams to the top of their game.

Sales team: alignment and attitude

Successful sales teams are deeply aligned with what their customers need and want. To be so they’re knowledgeable about what’s happening in their customers’ worlds and industries. We’ve found it’s common for sales teams to have a certain amount of friction with product, marketing and engineering teams. However, aligning and working well with those cross-functional internal teams is crucial to effectively serving the customer. In terms of attitude, most professionals know how difficult it is to face regular rejection as a salesperson. An optimistic mindset that charges forward despite frequent setbacks (which are viewed as learning opportunities) is a must.

Professional services teams: connection and performance

Relationships are so central to the job of these teams that connection trumps the other attributes here. This is because the most successful professional service providers work well with others, are expert communicators, and are highly accountable to their clients. Secondarily, these teams should prioritize meeting their goals and staying flexible enough to adapt their behaviors in the service of those goals.

Engineering and customer success teams: alignment and performance

Like sales teams, engineering and customer success teams need a customer-first mindset above all else. That deep customer empathy is a significant driver of the product and/or service innovation that keeps some companies consistently ahead of the pack. The ability to perform — to hit important product deadlines or customer retention goals — is also a central element of success for these teams.

Focus on the most important team resilience attributes for what your team needs to do, and you may just make it through your 2019 to-do list — and put your team in a great place to start 2020 strong.

Did you know there’s a formula for building resilient, high-performing teams? Find out what it is with a free demo of RallyBright’s Resilient Teams™ assessment. Want to chat with me about your team? Shoot me a line at john@rallybright.com

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