How to Create Resilient Teams


Understanding the keys to creating resilient teams is something many leaders and organizations strive for. Not all teams are the same, just as each human being is born with different traits. While some are naturally resilient, others are not; however, it is possible to train leaders in essential soft skills to adopt a mindset that enables them to demonstrate high emotional intelligence at work and transfer it to their teams.

The world, economies, and workplaces have undergone changes that few could have imagined. If there is one approach that can help an organization and its teams survive and thrive in times of uncertainty, it is resilience. In the case of a business giant like Apple, it was not just their cutting-edge technology but their resilient teams that served as a key force during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

Since resilience is not a trait everyone is born with, how can leaders work to create resilient teams?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Prevention is better than cure,” and it holds true here. It is easier to create resilient teams before adversity strikes, and it is the manager’s responsibility to exercise good leadership and ensure that the organization’s teams are equipped with the right skills and mindset. This can be done by acting as a leader-coach and promoting coaching conversations with close and regular follow-up of collaborators.

How to Build a Resilient Team

The following strategies are key to achieving resilient teams:

1. Instill Emotional Self-Regulation

Self-regulation has been defined as a behavioral meta-skill to be resilient in the 21st century. It allows managing behavior in phases of foresight and planning, performance control, and reflection. Emotional self-regulation not only contributes to managing behavioral skills in stressful situations but also enables team members to demonstrate emotional intelligence at work, as self-regulation is one of the five components of emotional intelligence.

Leaders can encourage their teams to create a document containing personal responses to how they would like to respond to scenarios they regularly face in the workplace. The practice can be more effective if the distinctive triggers of each employee are incorporated into the document.

2. Build Trust

It is up to the leader to foster trust within the teams by clarifying the roles of each team member and how those roles work in synergy, as well as by developing a safe environment. Team leaders can build trust by:

  • Setting clear goals and explaining the processes to achieve them.
  • Training and guiding through coaching.
  • Helping team members master difficult tasks and situations by offering growth opportunities.
  • Developing and sharing with the team a comprehensive but general framework for responding to crisis situations. The framework should be applicable to a range of situations to resolve problems or moments of uncertainty.
  • Empowering teams to leverage their experience to be more creative and come up with innovative solutions.
  • Encouraging trust among team members through dialogue and continuous conversations about the importance of each member and their expertise, and how they can rely on each other’s strengths when facing adversity.

3. Improvisation and Adaptability

If there is one lesson we’ve learned from the COVID-19 virus, it is the capacity for improvisation and adaptation. We have witnessed not only the resilience of the virus itself but also that of teams and organizations worldwide that managed to improvise and adapt to new work environments and technologies.

A clear understanding of goals and familiarity with each other’s skills and roles undoubtedly helps the team maintain focus while improvising their processes by leveraging the expertise of their members.

Team resilience is as important as individual resilience, which can be nurtured by leadership and lead to teams and organizations capable of withstanding the test of time.

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