A leader’s ability to build a healthy team makes or breaks an organization’s productivity and profitability.
Not only does a healthy, engaged team have a direct correlation to a strong bottom line, but if a leader’s team begins to fray, splinter, and atrophy–initiating and perpetuating a revolving door of transition–the corporate and personal costs to the organization, the leader, and their team members can be exorbitant.1
What is Team Health?
Team health is how a leader recognizes and understands whether their people are connected to the company mission and each other in a way that ensures operational success.
Seems Obvious, Right?
While the positive implications of a healthy team seem obvious to most leaders, what’s required to cultivate and sustain a healthy team may not be.
Many leaders feel confident and competent to navigate the ebb and flow of the market, traverse the expectations and desires of shareholders, prepare dynamic keynotes for conferences, etc., but when it comes to traversing the waters of team dynamics and health, many leaders struggle mightily.
Despite being armed with data and figures and reports, many leaders still wrestle with an execution gap that exists between how they want their teams to be and what’s actually the case.
Here are a few key ways to close the gap, bolster your confidence as a relational leader, and sustain team health.
5 Ways to Sustain a Healthy Team
1. Communication is King: Communication runs through every aspect of a team, like the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, veins, etc.) through the human body. A body is healthy when there’s clean, continuous blood flow. Similarly, a team flourishes from the continuous presence of clear communication. From vision and strategy to role expectations, affirmations, and constructive feedback, clear communication is essential. So much so that when PROMARK coaches were asked, “What creates a healthy team?” one coach simply responded, “communicate, communicate, communicate.”
2. Develop Trust: If communication is like the cardiovascular system, trust is the backbone. Trust provides a team with the key structural integrity to move forward while adjusting and accommodating the pressures of high demands and new dilemmas. Leaders develop trust by demonstrating trust: When they bring on the right hires for the right tasks and provide resources to accomplish the job, leaders need to then trust those hires to accomplish what they’ve set out to do. When a leader trusts their team, the team trusts their leader. Studies show that though trust may be an intangible quality, it has tangible, measurable economic effects on an organization.2
3. Take Back the Meeting: For many, meetings feel like a time sink or necessary evil. But they’re still a great way to bring your team together to establish clarity, connection, and clear calls to action. Here are a few ways to “take back the meeting”:
Make sure meetings are at everyone’s level. Talk to your team, not over them;
Find creative ways to recognize the accomplishments and successes of various team members;
Create space for guided conversations and contributions from the team. While brief meetings are the best meetings, make sure there’s adequate space for team members to contribute.
Ensure meetings have a purpose-driven by an itinerary or agenda with what to accomplish. Leave the meeting with documented action items that are both realistic and time-sensitive.
4. Provide Regular Feedback: “End of the year reviews are passé,” shared one PROMARK coach. Employees want to be challenged, pursue new goals, and feel like they’re growing to their full potential. Waiting for a mid- or end-of-year review to provide team members feedback oftentimes leaves them, especially top performers, inefficiently expending energy, leading to stagnation and feeling vocationally unfulfilled. While it’s up to every leader to define what is “regular,” recurrent feedback helps cultivate clear expectations, and coaching opportunities and garnered trust between a manager and their team. Taking one or two minutes to praise both individuals and work teams in public creates massive potential for increased eagerness and engagement.
5. Harness Productive Conflict: No one enjoys conflict, but even among the smallest of teams, it’s inevitable. Truth is, healthy teams aren’t marked by an absence of conflict. Rather, a healthy team is one that knows how to appropriately address conflict and implement conflict resolution. Though a healthy team may experience destructive conflict with less frequency, equipping and empowering teams to productively respond to conflict rather than reacting to it helps generate healthy, transparent interactions between team members. Taking time to address the causes of conflict and the reasons it can be perpetuated, along with providing the skills and tools necessary to cultivate productive conflict it, is a great way for teams to practice and integrate clear communication skills and develop trust among peers. While more tools exist to help leaders drive and sustain team health, these five are immutable regardless of a team’s size and dynamics and a leader’s workplace style. Leaders who master these will find their teams transcending from mere functionality into a higher-performing team.
Do you wrestle with an execution gap between knowing why team health is important and helping provide it? We can help. Contact us today.