January 24, 2022
How To Keep Your Team Healthy Part 1
Forming a team can be a challenge. Keeping a team together can be even harder!
In the process of keeping a team together, goals are often not reached. A lack of vision and strategy is not always the issue. Many times, teams do not stick together and accomplish their mission and vision because the team is not healthy! Unhealth negatively impacts the vision of a team. What started as a clear, fresh vision has now become blurry and stale. Instead of meetings buzzing with excitement, the room feels like no one really wants to be there. Being a part of the team is no longer an opportunity - it’s an obligation. Can you relate?
“Newness” always has a level of excitement and momentum, but when that “newness” becomes “same old,” it becomes a challenge to maintain a healthy team dynamic. Maybe you were able to get people bought into the vision and strategy because things were new, but you don’t sense that same liveliness anymore. Teams will jump from “new thing” to “new thing” trying to recapture that earlier momentum. The problem is they’re really undercutting progress because, at some point, you have to lock in and work the process while keeping the team healthy and engaged.
While not exhaustive, there are 6 things to implement in your team to keep them healthy and engaged!
You have to foster a culture of honesty. Where there is no honesty there is no trust. And where there is no trust, there is no team. This is critical for the interpersonal relationships of the team. A team is a group of relationships, and your team is only as healthy as your most unhealthy relationship on the team. Is there suspicion, gossip, unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt and uncommunicated frustrations amongst team members? You have to be tenacious to work this out. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. And it’s always messy. But it’s necessary. This will challenge your leadership because it forces you to be connected to the core of your team closely enough to discern relational tension. It means you’ll have to study healthy communication and conflict resolution. It means you may have to ask some people to step off the team. Most importantly, it means you may have to own some of your frustrations with your team and have some one-on-one’s and open up. Keep in mind: blessed are the peacemakers.
One good resource for fostering honesty is a simple consideration. Stop and tell yourself the truth first, then tell that truth to your team. Then, intentionally pursue…feedback.
If people can’t give feedback then they’ll just get fed up. How are you intentionally creating channels of feedback? Something I’ve done in my leadership is send out a feedback form every six months to the leadership team. I’d ask them questions like, “How can I be a better leader to you?” “If you could change anything about our work, what would you change and why?” “Do you feel cared for by me?” etc. Now, feedback twice a year is not enough for healthy communication, but the purpose is to take a step in the right direction to intentionally build a feedback culture. Do you regularly allow your team to speak into the organization? Do you have people on the team that can speak into your leadership? People are much more willing to receive feedback when you model that same reception to them.
A great resource for feedback is the book Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.
Does your leadership style resemble a dictatorship, or do you invite people into your decision-making? Look, I understand there are some things good leaders must decide and shots good leaders have to call. People in your organization will not always agree with your decisions, but that is part of leadership. But this should be the exception - not the rule. People are more likely to feel a part of the team when they are heard. Collaboration looks different depending on the size of your team, and you’ll never be able to please everybody. Nonetheless, your team becomes unhealthy when you’re the only person that can ultimately speak into what’s happening and your thoughts can’t be challenged.
To first implement collaboration with your team start asking questions.
- Ask your team what do they think about a problem.
- Ask them what they think about a solution you propose.
- Ask them what do they think about each other's thoughts.
Second, over time assess the strengths, passions, weaknesses, and experiences of your team members and bring that into account as you collaborate. While every voice on your team is valuable, there might be specific areas and issues where some members excel more in their knowledge and expertise than others. It’s okay to allow those voices more weight in certain times of collaboration.
We have three more areas to cover on keeping a team healthy! Check out part 2 now!