Fostering A Healthy Team

Image created by Bristol Artist Rachael Johnson – Instagram @rachael.johnson20art

As the new year begins, we are often encouraged to ‘start afresh’ and overhaul previous modus operandi. By internalising this mentality, leaders can often make their employees feel that they too must change their attitudes and approaches. This, in turn, could demoralise staff who feel may feel undervalued and unconfident just being who they are.

Instead, beginning the new year with a positive focus will support the fostering of healthy workplace cultures where staff feel inspired. A great way to do this is to develop processes which allow employees to think confidently about their unique skills and abilities.

Encourage reflection

Whilst one-to-ones are often embedded in managerial strategy for the purpose of encouraging reflection, an environment which builds employees self-worth can also be developed in other ways. Where teams are asked to reflect as a group, individuals are provided with the opportunity to consider where their skills lie and have their abilities further attested to by peers. Peer validation is an important element in the building of confidence, so consider about hosting a group feedback session to promote mutual admiration amongst colleagues and highlight individual strengths.

Think beyond binaries

Often, feedback from managers is provided within the framework of ‘what went well’ and ‘what could be improved’. The connotations of this are that employees contribute well in some ways, and less well in others. This in turn leads to an understanding that some skills are superior to others. Helping employees to think beyond the binary of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ attributes often allows them access assets that are traditionally undervalued, and in turn improve their self-confidence at work.

Encouraging peer group reflection might also help employees to understand that skills they might undervalue within themselves are just not being deployed in the right context.

Considering how certain attributes might contribute differently to certain areas of work will allow individuals to value all parts of their performance. It also draws attention to how working with peers can help individuals to bridge gaps in employees own ways of working, which might have been hindering their contribution.

Use reflection tools

The Creative Type quiz (https://mycreativetype.com/) by Adobe is a great tool for facilitating this way of thinking. Though a set of abstract questions, this software aligns the quiz-taker with a working personality type and highlights their strengths. In addition, however, it identifies which other ‘creative type’ you might work well with to maximise your potential. Undertaking this quiz as a team, and reflecting on it together, introduces non-hierarchical ways of thinking about ability, beyond the binary of positive and negative. This activity therefore reinforces the value of employees both as individuals and as a team

This was my creative type

Equally the VIA Strength Finder ( https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register) could be used to encourage group-based reflection on what each employee brings to the team via their natural strengths, helping the collective group to leverage of the skills of each other and in turn create a positive working environment which boosts confidence and morale allowing each member to contribute in areas where they naturally excel.

Find out your top strengths using this free online tool

Celebrate Success

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As we are about to enter the season of festivity and celebration it reminded me of the need to ensure we celebrate success, achievements or just continuous hard work throughout the year rather than just at set times.

In the work I do coaching leaders at all levels of the organisation I encourage them to routinely catch people when they do the right things and behave in the right way as this has a dual benefit. Firstly, everyone feels good when they get some positive feedback and recognition plus when we acknowledge that we have noticed someone getting good results, behaving in line with company values or in a professional way it reinforces the message that we want to see more or similar in the future. Most of us have experienced the way that if you laugh or acknowledge a small child behaving in a certain way they keep doing it to get a similar response. As adults it is no different we still like to please those around us.

The way in which you choose to celebrate success however must be individual and meaningful to the recipient and this is where the skill lies. It takes time for leader to get to know each member of the team especially if they have a wide span of control. In my experience this is time well spent understanding each person’s individual personality, building a picture of what is important to that person’s life inside and outside of work plus also identifying their motivational mix; what makes them tick. Once you have built a pen picture of each person it is much easier to work out what type of reward or recognition would likely work for that person when it comes to celebrating success or a period of hard work and dedication. Some people will like to be publicly recognized in front of their peers or senior management while others would like a simple thankyou behind closed doors.

This type of tailored approach is equally important regardless of the size of the team or business. In my work across all sectors and size of company it is most often the individual leader that makes this happen and it becomes part of their leadership toolkit they can take with them throughout their careers.

So, I challenge you how good are you at recognising the efforts of others? is this something you are naturally good at and just need to continue in the way you are or is this something you could do a better job of in 2018. We need to look after our high performers and encourage the growth of future high performers

 

Sandra is a professional coach who works with both organisations and private client. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com