A systemic view of team resilience

I’m interviewing leaders and staff,  discovering what has made their teams resilient during this uncertain time that we’ve been through globally.

I’ll be presenting some of the information in a workshop at the SDF Festival of Learning later next week.

In the meantime, here’s some insights on why we need a systemic view for Team Resilience to work.

Why do we need systemic resilience? Yes, we can push ourselves to be resilient in our teams.   But we need to open our lens and look at the wider setting to enable long-term sustainable team resilience. Otherwise, by being resilient over a long time, teams can eventually experience loss of motivation and disengagement. And burnout. And even cycles of burnout – as we push our team members to keep innovating and keep going.

It’s a systemic view (or lens) that helps keep us informed, innovative and sustainably resilient.

What can you see with a ‘systemic perspective’? With a wider systemic lens focusing on resilience, we can  see:

  • What it is at the wider global, national and sector level that individuals and teams need to be resilient to e.g., financial uncertainty.
  • What might  be on the horizon in terms of upcoming change that teams and individuals need to innovate for e.g., hybrid learning
  • What trends are happening to enable people /staff  to move from surviving resilience in isolation to community-built resilience e.g., addressing ‘me too’ themes and discrimination.  We can then innovate around services for these trends
  • How an organisation does or doesn’t (and might learn to) support the resilience of teams and individuals e.g., Mentoring schemes for BAME staff

Being resilient in organisations,  we need to have this adaptable lens. Looking at the wider systemic picture,  then narrowing down to  the resilience of a team and its leader. And then narrowing the lens even more,  to look in detail at the resilience of individual staff.

By responding to the observations of our systemic view we may eventually end up putting actions, innovations  and services in place  that lead to more sustainable individual and team resilience.

This adaptable systemic lens is a new resilience skill for our uncertain times.

To learn more about resilience at work, do contact us: andry@thelearningmoment.org

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‘I didn’t mean it like that!’ ‘Landmines’ and conflict in conversations at work

I’m learning about Deborah Tannen’s work. Her research focuses on conversations[1]. On why we understand and often misunderstand each other. Good conversation skills are in my experience,  crucial at work. Whether you work on customer service,  as an administrator, or as a manager using coaching skill.

Working on  your conversation skills also contributes to your resilience. As you experience less irritation and anger and more harmony,  making it easier to keep moving forward in tasks, conversations and projects.

Stop talking over me!!

Deborah has researched conversational tone, rhythms, and patterns.  Like ‘cooperative interrupting’ – where you interrupt to ‘build on the gist’ of what the person said. As opposed to interrupting to cut them off and speak over them. Is ‘cooperative interrupting’ still interrupting? According to Deborah it depends on your point of view, your culture, geography and gender and your conversation intentions and expectations.

I don’t agree with everything I’m learning from Tannen’s findings e.g., I worry a lot about the gender generalisations). I’m digesting and processing it – like a true reflector.  In the meantime, here are some fascinating tips from her work about improving conversations and understanding.

  1. There are ‘landmines’ in conversations between us. These are the places where we get triggered and misunderstand each other. These are often linked to our own expectations of the other person. Like how much space they should be between one person speaking and the next.
  • A good way to deepen your understanding, is to step back after a conversation. To see if you can (more objectively) analyse it a bit ‘like a scientist’. Explore what your expectations were or where you think you got tripped up etc. This reflection is a skill that you learn as a coach, facilitator, teacher. And it’s great for anyone working with others to do a reflection like this. Of course, perception is everything. So true ‘objective thinking’ is probably not truly possible here. But at least you are working on stopping back and having a bit of perspective.
  • Bring peace harmony and understanding to our conversations with those close to us. Drop the experience of being at war and being adversarial. I love the idea that of ‘looking for the good in people’. By assuming there is often a good intention (rather than a malicious one) we can move away from seeing each other as enemies. ‘We have the power to resist taking adversarial stances toward each other in our private interactions.’ I found this idea valuable in  conversations where I’ve been in conflict. It’s also a great approach to use in customer service.

If you’d like to find out more about our communication skills workshops at The Learning Moment drop by and read more here.


[1]https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/43297241.pdf?ab_segments=0%252Fbasic_phrase_search%252Fcontrol&refreqid=excelsior%3A629b7dadf54fad1d2bdd16bbc648356e