Teams are made up of individuals, organisations are made up of teams. That seems pretty simple right? The challenge is that individuals don’t just do what you think they should do – and by default neither do teams or organisations. The whakatauākī nā King Tāwhiao comes to mind:
“Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati.”
If there is but one toetoe stem it will break, but if they are together in a bundle they will never break.
So how do you bind individuals together within a team, and teams within an organisation? Here are 5 tips that should get you thinking.
Physical proximity and emotional intimacy
We’re human and so we need to connect, as humans. We need physical contact (which can come from physical proximity), however we also need emotional intimacy along with that. What are some ways you can engineer opportunities in the wider organisation for ‘bumping into each other’ more often?
By the way, shared work spaces are not always the answer, we get stuck in a rut and bump into each other less and less over time.
What patterns do we need to establish? Keeping in mind that every now and again we’ll need to intentionally break the pattern to improve. What opportunities are there for real emotional connection and intimacy currently within teams, or even for the sharing the human sides of who we are?
Regular, shared vulnerability
When we see each other’s vulnerability, weaknesses and flaws, we’re more willing to share our own, and so continues the vulnerability loop that actually strengthens and binds us tighter together. The blemishes on my stem are then strengthened by the other stems around me, my strong areas become strengths to them.
We don’t all have to be strong at everything – in fact trying to be that way is counter-productive.
Leaders need to go first with vulnerability, and often. That could look like sharing (appropriate to context and professional role) personal challenges, work/personal life conflicts, to the extent that lets people see the real you and learn from your learnings. When was the last time you were vulnerable with your team and felt a deeper than normal emotional connection?
Get through tough situations and solve hard problems together
Weathering the storm of change and chaos in the workplace/marketplace as a tightly bound bundle brings greater strength. People, like plants and trees, need resistance to grow deeper roots, sturdier stems, and stronger support systems.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow. (reference link)
At the same time we need to show progress of the organisation, remind everyone regularly of the storms and challenges we’ve already overcome together. We need reminding. Repetition is the mother of learning.
Coordinated organisation wellbeing strategy
This supports individuals to become and stay well themselves. It’s not up to the organisation to force people to be well, however, we can go a long way towards influencing and creating the environment/ecosystem for team wellbeing. Toiora Wellbeing isn’t just about gym memberships, lunchtime yoga/meditation classes, or pedometers.
It’s a strategic, holistic and measured approach to taking care of our mental, social, spiritual, emotional, and of course physical wellbeing across the organisation.
It leads to greater creativity and innovation within individuals.
An external perspective from regular coaching
Let’s face it. Plants need watering, gardens need weeding and digging, trees need pruning. Having a mirror held up to us, getting accurate bearings, doing the painful self-work that comes from an external perspective helps to keep us focused on the main thing. Keep the main thing the main thing in the organisation! Does everyone know what the organisation’s purpose is? It’s too easy in this increasingly distracted world to be led off course, and eventually find ourselves in a completely different destination than expected.
Wiremu Matthews | Director | Kānuka Wellbeing & Leadership Ltd
M: 021 348 776
Building wellbeing and leadership practices that support individual growth and organisational prosperity.