Your employees turn up each day and do their job, but are they a surviving or thriving team? Are they focused on simply getting through each day or are they growing and prospering? In this article we explore the indicators, the difference it makes to business and the common features of thriving teams.
Surviving at Work
To survive is to exist, to simply do what you can to make it to the end of another day. The day might include monotony and tedium, it might be a struggle or it could be overwhelmingly busy, with demands coming from every direction.
If your team are surviving, it’s a case of heads down and just get through the day. They are physically present, but their mind is counting down the hours and wishing they were somewhere else. Their capacity for anything new is limited.
Thriving at Work
To thrive is to develop and grow. It is where you have opportunities, options and support. You have a sense of purpose, possibly because you are using your skills and your opinion is valued. As a result, you feel motivated and energised and you achieve a sense of job satisfaction.
If your team are thriving, they are empowered. Clear in their role and appreciated for their contribution, they are more likely to be proactive and work collaboratively. They are keen to learn, to share ideas and to deliver results.
How to Identify Thriving Teams
Several indicators can be used to spot thriving teams.
Firstly, take a look at the data on staff absenteeism. Thriving at Work; A Meta-analysis* reports a correlation between thriving and beneficial health outcomes. The research that learning and developing at work had a positive effect on mental and physical health. As a result, your team are less likely to be unwell. Equally, collaboration and a sense of purpose result in people wanting to be at work. They know they can make a difference, so they aren’t finding excuses to come in late, finish early or take a duvet day.
Secondly, consider staff turnover. Do you have a good percentage of long-standing team members? Also, when people leave, are they open and honest about their reasons? Has working in your team inspired and equipped them to embrace new opportunities?
Thirdly, look at customer feedback. A thriving team is positive, proactive and helpful. As a result, expect to see high levels of customer satisfaction, rave reviews and mentions of specific individuals who have gone over and above.
Does it Matter if We Have a Surviving or Thriving Team?
Staff wages are a significant outgoing for most businesses, so you want to get the best return on that investment. Surviving teams aren’t invited to contribute or they avoid contributing in case it results in more work for them. They do what’s required and leave, so there is no added value.
In contrast, when the workplace culture encourages employees to thrive, the organisation benefits from fresh perspectives, innovative thinking, energy and higher productivity. Employees want to contribute to the shared objectives. Their skills, experience and ideas are valued, so they are motivated to think and act creatively, critically and collaboratively. This boosts communication, cohesion and the effectiveness of their work. In empowering employees, you can often discover hidden potential, those individuals who could become the strategists, leaders or mentors of the future.
As previously mentioned, thriving teams also reduce issues around absenteeism, recruitment and customer complaints.
How to Create Thriving Teams
Research* has identified common factors in thriving teams. These are:
Individual personalities – employees have innate characteristics including self-motivation, curiosity & resilience. They are confident in their skills and will persevere in pursuit of goals.
Relational resources – employees are personable and relationships are nurtured. Team members display supportive behaviours and the work ethos is collaborative, rather than competitive.
Diversity – the team is representative of the community and brings together broad perspectives. Everyone is encouraged to be open-minded, contribute and learn from each other.
Strong leadership – leaders are role models of the company culture. Therefore, they communicate effectively and set clear goals, expectations and direction for the team. They assign responsibilities according to skills and empower, rather than overpower. They recognise effort and achievement, yet will also hold people accountable or deal with challenging situations.
Sense of purpose – the team understands that the work they do is meaningful, that it makes a difference and that it contributes to desired outcomes. In addition, the personal values of those in the team are aligned with the company values.
Learning & development – the personal and professional ambitions of team members are supported through tailored learning and development opportunities. They can see career progression routes and understand how upskilling can support their future in the company.
As a business psychologist, I work with organisations like yours to transform surviving teams into thriving teams. Having understood your desired outcomes, I will develop and implement a tailored plan of services that will help optimise the potential of your workforce and enhance your workplace culture.
Please get in touch for further information.