Emotions in Teams

There seems to be a renewed focus on teams this year as we continue to gravel out of the recession and hire back talent to begin projects that were postponed over the past few years. Thanks to the workforce shifts as a result of the recession, many more new teams are being formed. And all the dynamics associated with team formation are playing out.

There has been an enormous amount of research and literature about teams over the past twenty years, it is hard to not go back to some of it and simply refresh our memories. If you are in a new role, or have had a new person join your team, I would ask you to consider an additional approach to make sure the new team has an optimal chance of success. It has to do with simply getting to know new team members from an emotional perspective.

I know that sounds odd at first. Compare workplace teams to perhaps some social teams in your life–like a marriage. In a healthy marriage, no amount of structure or formal logic can come close to getting to know your spouse or significant other emotionally. We all have bad and good days. Spouses and parents in families have a sixth sense of knowing when someone else is having a bad day without that person acknowledging it. Healthy families often try to “cheer up” the person having a bad day by perhaps cooking their favorite meal, or watching a movie they’d like, or whatever it may be. This level of intimacy allows the marriage or family or organically build and grow, accepting people for who they are and the inevitable challenges that comes with life.

Why can’t we nurture and foster similar relationships at work? Certainly, I am not suggesting the same level of intimacy, but certainly being able to recognize when a team member is “off her game” and being able to proactively take her out to lunch to her favorite restaurant, for example, might be the difference between a good productive week at work and a not so good one. I acknowledge that it is easier to keep one’s distance and not get to know people at work, and in some cases, it is safer as well. But the rewards of taking a risk and knowing team members, especially those who we work with hour after hour during the course of a day, week, or project can be an incredibly healthy and productive use of time.

It may even start by you offering the new team member some insight into your preferred style, your style under stress, and what someone can say or do to “cheer you up”  (practice empathy – EQ) to get you back on track.  Try it this week.


One response to “Emotions in Teams

  1. This is what we have done when we found ourselves on a team we truly enjoyed. We open ourselves emotionally. We can learn the actions and behaviors that build trust.

    It seems as though many have not been exposed to simple courteousness that build trusting teams. We’ve possibly been confusing people as things and treating each other with mostly logic. A starting point might be listening to the point that the other person feels heard. Also being willing to trust others with our own faults.

    Thanks for bringing this subject to our attention. Because we really are emotional beings. If we want to connect with other beings it will have to be at this basic level. And really that is where life is found – in relationships.

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