Managing Team Dynamics: Employee Wellbeing and Performance
In the modern workplace, positive team dynamics are essential in driving organizational success. Effective collaboration, communication, and synchronization of efforts are what propel any team to achieve its objectives. However, while we focus intently on achieving goals, it's crucial not to overlook individual team members' emotional and psychological well-being.
The post below explores an often overlooked but vital aspect of team dynamics: combating loneliness and isolation. It's easy to assume that individuals are immune from feelings of loneliness by merely being a part of a team. However, the reality is more complex. Team members can be physically present in meetings, participate in group projects, and still feel isolated or disconnected. Such feelings don't just hamper their emotional well-being; they can drastically affect team productivity, cohesion, and, ultimately, the organization's performance.
Understanding and addressing the factors contributing to loneliness within teams and how it impacts organizational performance is not just a matter of empathetic leadership; it's a strategic imperative.
At Thriving Teams Institute, many leaders we work with believe loneliness and isolation at work are not a business problem, but research shows that it is. The interplay between team dynamics and individual well-being reminds us that teams are systems, and any team's strength and health are related to its members' well-being.
Do not let team member loneliness and isolation be a hidden factor influencing business and organizational performance and well-being on your teams and in your organization.
Are my social needs met at work?
In today’s workplace, you most likely collaborate with others- as a member of a team or multiple teams. While working in collaboration- can your team members still experience loneliness, or is the
assumption accurate that if on the team, they are not lonely? In answering that question, the complexity of human connection at work takes center stage.
Research has shown us that each team member decides their levels of loneliness based on their desired amount and quality of contact with others. Employees often spend most of their day interacting with their work teams; many get their social needs met through their interactions on the team- but remember, each team member has their own view of how those interactions meet their individual needs. Each team member answers the question- are my social needs met at work? If your team members are answering no, then you have a factor influencing your team’s performance, and it is now an integral part of your job as a leader or fellow team member- whether you want it to be or not.
Why Uncover the Factors Influencing Loneliness for Your Team Members?
Research has shown that loneliness and feeling isolated at work impact behavior; It can negatively influence team citizenship behaviors, organizational and team commitment, employee turnover, employee engagement, job satisfaction, well-being, and performance. These factors have significant financial and other risk impacts on the business. As teams become more intentional about navigating the tension between performance and well-being, loneliness is one lens to explore as a team—uncover the factors influencing the feelings of loneliness on the team.
We understand that factors outside the team influence a team member’s perception and needs related to loneliness and how those factors influence team dynamics. Some of those factors are:
how much they desire interaction with the team
what interactions do they want with the team
competency with social skills
personal psychology and experiences
While you can’t change the factors above, you can uncover the answer to the first two bullet points, use that information to influence your interactions, and then see the positive impacts on team performance and well-being.
What you can and can't change about loneliness and isolation in the workplace
3 Ways Leaders and Team Members can Explore how to Influence Human Connection and Combat Loneliness and Isolation on Teams
By combating loneliness and social isolation at the team level, you will help employees feel more alive, experience togetherness, positively influence employee production and excel in your pursuit of creating Thriving Teams.
Instead of making assumptions about your team’s human connection needs, explore each team member’s unique needs. This exploration can be done formally through surveys, like our THRIVEALYTICS™ suite of surveys and narrative-based assessments, or through intentional learning conversations as a team.
Build off the insights, and create routines and practices that make the space for all human connection needs to be met. To uncover what those routines and methods might be, using some of the underlying principles in design thinking will help you take the team’s empathy data and turn it into innovative ideas that will push your team toward thriving.
Maintain focus on team psychological safety as you navigate the different team needs. You may not understand a team member’s needs–causing you to want to judge, devalue, or make fun of what they express. Practice your compassionate listening skills–you do not know the root of that need, so remain curious until you have a new understanding that helps you take new action to support your team member.
Human connection is essential for high performance and well-being. While everyone needs human connection, how teams and organizations meet those needs is complex and unique to each employee. As groups of employees become teams, dynamics are created that influence the levels of loneliness that will emerge on the team. Ultimately, those levels could be a silent killer to performance. Be proactive and explore how to meet the human connection needs of your team- instead of dealing reactively to the impacts on employee retention, team performance, and well-being.
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