Now that many companies are seeking to bring employees back to the office at least on occasion, it’s a good time to reevaluate how our teams can be most effective. The best teams are those that value strong relationships and individual well-being.
That’s according to Jen Fisher and Anh Phillips, authors of Work Better Together: How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines. In 2020, Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, executives cited, for the first time, both well-being and strong relationships as essential to interdependent, team-based workplaces.
Virtual meetings are a poor substitute for meeting in the same physical location. When your team does meet—either in person or virtually—it’s important to provide psychological safety, ensure everyone’s voice is heard, build and maintain trust, and be respectful.
“Belonging is essential and this is driven by comfort, connection and contribution,” write Fisher and Phillips. “When you look a little deeper, you recognize that all three are the result of healthy relationships with one’s team members.”
Healthy workplace relationships have also been found to reduce stress and illness, and research shows that social connection in the workplace improves employees’ commitment to their work as well as their colleagues.
Vulnerability is Key
Gallup research established four broad types of meaningful moments on teams: !) when you propose a new idea, 2) when you ask for help, 3) when you push back on something and 4) when you ask a personal favor. All these situations leave you vulnerable to rejection in its many forms—from being ignored to outright scorn.
“The way this vulnerability is received will either build the culture or break it and will either help or hinder both the individual’s and the organization’s ability to produce their best performance,” wrote Gallup’s Jake Herway.
The ability to work together effectively begins by simply treating others in the same way you want them to treat you. Be honest and respectful. Assume positive intent. Seek to understand before being understood, as Stephen R. Covey put it.
Use Technology Wisely
As much as various technologies help us to communicate, it’s important to recognize that these are only tools. They can be used effectively or not. While collaborating tools such as Slack may be appropriate some of the time, they are not most of the time. Texting has become more common than phone calls, yet it can undermine clarity in communication. In person, face to face, conversation certainly improves understanding over the back and forth of email messages.
“Work technology makes us more productive, and yet its habituating design leads to overuse and addiction, when we become less productive,” write Fisher and Phillips. “Given these dualities, the path forward to strong relationships and well-being is to become more intentional about what we do and to make a commitment to ground all our behaviors, individually and as teams, in carefully chosen values.”
Bring your teams back and choose to uphold values that encourage well-being and strong relationships. This is good for the individual, the team and the entire organization.