Paying attention to how your teams perform is one of many different approaches you can take to improve the wellbeing of your employees. To learn more, download the free eBook ‘A practical guide to employee wellbeing’.
In this post I’ll explain how you can raise wellbeing levels of your employees by facilitating happier and more productive teams. I’ve included a checklist of possible reasons why a team may appear to be struggling or underperforming and some ideas about how you can easily overcome these challenges.
There are many benefits to improving employee wellbeing for example:
Reduce sickness absence
Reduce staff turnover
Why explore ‘team wellbeing’?
If you think issues or problems within your team may be impacting on wellbeing or sickness absence levels either directly or indirectly then the chances are that it’s not the only negative impact. It’s very likely that performance, innovation and engagement will all be affected too.
If this resonates with you, then read on to find out more about how you can support your team in order to improve their wellbeing.
Some teams will need more attention than others, and different teams will need different kinds of support at different times. Focussed support will get you the best ROI. Don’t feel that all teams need to be treated equally.
When it comes to employee wellbeing, it doesn’t pay to think of individuals in isolation. In reality, each team, section or department within your organisation acts like a machine which has different working parts to it. In order for the machine to function properly, the different parts all have to work well together. If the parts of the machine don’t work properly together, then the whole thing operates inefficiently and is more likely to break down. In the context of people in a team, this brings down the morale of the individuals and as result, the whole team can suffer.
As well as looking at individuals as part of a team, it is also essential to look at the bigger picture of that team within a department and that department within an organisation. Each team is part of a wider system, so if one team is facing challenges or issues, consider the impact that is having on the wider system. These problems could manifest in terms of practical issues for example not getting things done which other teams are relying on, as well as people related issues such as employee disengagement, frustration, gossip and divisiveness.
Address the problem thoroughly – not superficially!
Don’t assume that something like a team ‘away day’ will make everything ok. An away day might be a good bonus for teams that are already performing well or newly formed teams where no specific issues are anticipated. But the simple act of having a bit of fun outside of the work environment won’t in itself fix any underlying problems in the long term.
Consider the possible reasons why a team might be experiencing poor wellbeing. Is it because the leader is exhausted and frustrated? Perhaps they could benefit from being given training in delegation or coaching for managers. Or are some of the team members bored and in need of a change? Could it be that an individual is having problems in their home life and it is affecting their concentration and impacting on the rest of the team? These are just a few examples of how an individual’s wellbeing could be negatively affecting the whole team.
Here is a check list of things to consider:
1. Is the disengagement of one individual impacting on the team as a whole?
2. Are the well- intentioned but ineffective habits or approach of a particular team member impacting on the team?
3. Could there be a lack of understanding of each other’s patterns (See ‘How to improve employee wellbeing by focussing on your recruitment process’ to learn more about ‘patterns’)
4. Is there confusion about the different roles within a team? Perhaps the roles are not clearly defined or maybe the nature of the team’s work has changed since the original roles were decided.
5. Have the needs of the individuals within the team changed over time but not been recognised?
6. Are the team members all working really hard but all pulling in different directions? Maybe the common goal is not clear or there are conflicting understandings of the best way to achieve a goal.
7. Is there a clash of values? Sometimes a team can hold a set of values which are contravened by the purpose of the organisation, or individuals can hold values which are at odds with the values of other team members
8. Is one person suffering ill health (mental or physical) which is impacting on the team as a whole?
9. Is there competition or perceived competition within a team?
10. Does a conflict of interest exist within the team or between that team and another team?
11. Could it be that an individual is experiencing problems in their home life?
12. Do the team as a whole have all the skills and resources they need in order to do the job properly?
13. Is the team working towards a common goal which is misaligned with the goal that is required of them? If so, they may appear to be underperforming whilst in their eyes they are working extremely hard and efficiently. This scenario can be very demoralising and disengaging.
14. Have external factors changed? A perfectly functioning team can be disrupted by a change of CEO or management with different (not necessarily ‘higher’) expectations.
15. Are the team as a whole doing everything right but are over-worked and collectively on the way to burning out? When this happens a release valve kicks in and may manifest in many different ways – in-fighting, relationship breakdown or burn out of one of the individual.
16. Has the team been set an impossible task? (or what they believe to be an impossible task?)
17. Does the team rely on input or support from another department or team which they are not receiving?
18. Is there a communication breakdown within the team or between the team and another team?
For a checklist of other factors which could be affecting the wellbeing of employees in your organisation, download my free eBook ‘A practical guide to employee wellbeing’ now.
What can you do?
There are a range of proactive ways in which you can support a team which is facing challenges. Here are 5 suggestions:
Collaboration dynamics (Judy Rees of X-Ray Listening) - A facilitated process for helping groups, particularly groups of people who are not team players, to work better together, especially if they work apart (remote offices or sites, globally dispersed teams or people working from home). The process involves eliciting and working with metaphors to help team members discover how their colleagues think and work. You can connect with Judy here.
Systemic modelling (Caitlin Walker of Training Attention) – A bespoke intervention, also using metaphors, to help teams move through positive changes by gaining a deep understanding of how each other thinks and what drives them. You can connect with Caitlin here.
Tribal lesson – The Tribal Lesson™, created by Mike McEwan, is a one-day team bonding event which combines the Olympic sport of fencing with NLP anchoring techniques. Participants learn all the skills they need to take part in a mini- tournament. The event creates a strong sense of higher purpose within individuals and an intense feeling of connectedness between team mates. Unconscious changes take place instantaneously and the effects last forever. You can connect with Mike here.
ChangeGives - A bespoke team day with a skilled, impartial facilitator - I recently co-facilitated a fantastic team day in which the entire team of 25 had an input into the outcome of the day. We had a sessions dedicated to successes, contributing factors to the successes, outcomes going forward, what resources they already have to achieve this, and what resources they need and how they all interacted with and depended on each other. Get in touch with me if you think a bespoke team day is what your team needs.
Team coaching (Cat Trebilco of Reach the Peak) – Cat runs coaching hillwalking retreats for teams who are either facing challenges or who are already high-functioning and want to elevate their performance to a new level. Cat is an INLPTA certified NLP practitioner as well as a fully qualified mountain leader and first aider. You can connect with Cat here.
What is the number one challenge you face in relation to your team or other teams in your organisation and how do you address it? I’d love to hear your different approaches and solutions.
Saffron Grant specialises in improving business performance by improving employee wellbeing. She provides resilience training, executive coaching and can help you create a watertight Employee Wellbeing Strategy for your organisation.
Saffron is the author of 'A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing - How to create your strategy' which can be downloaded for free here.