Transforming Fear to Joy

Wake Up to Workplace Wellbeing III — Team Development

What do you see as the allure of working or playing on a team?  Learning a new skill?  Making new friends?  Increasing your happiness quotient, i.e., your positive emotions?  Martin Seligman discovered the difference between extremely happy and extremely miserable people is that happy people are very social.  Thus alongside what Seligman claims are drivers of happiness — engagement and meaningfulness — we know relationships are also a key indicator.  A simple proof of this exists in its opposite.  For anyone who has experienced extreme unhappiness, that is, mental illness — depression, anxiety, addiction, psychosis, etc. — you also know withdrawal from others is its universal symptom.

For all the conflict in our relationships with people, we are still happier, more engaged and live more meaningful lives with than without them.  Much has been said about our preference to work alone versus on a team, but even the most introverted of us needs to satisfy our sense of belonging within family, workplace and community.

So, how can your group or organization increase its level of happiness and its overall wellbeing — harmony, productivity and innovation?  Seligman provides us some hints when we consider his PERMA model and its five pillars of wellbeing:  

Positive emotions — joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration,                                                  awe and love

Engagement — full absorption in challenges that use one’s strengths

Relationships — positive, deep connections with others

Meaning — belonging to and serving something greater than oneself

Accomplishment — contributing and mastering one’s potential

Many organizations I work with value these wellbeing pillars but are uncertain how to create this experience in their workplace.  When I ask what culture currently exists rarely do I hear that collaboration or working together is valued.  In other words, teamwork may be desired by everyone, but it is not supported by the corporate systems, processes and structures.

A simple example of how organizations contradict their desire for a team culture is when it comes to bonus time.  Paying bonuses based on individual performance promotes competition rather than collaboration among organizational members.  It is wise to remember that willingness precedes skill when it comes to team collaboration.

Given that our learned conflict resolution strategy around the globe is war and competition, it would be naïve to think that just because we put a group of people together they know how to operate effectively as a team.  Teamwork requires personal and organizational development as well as system and structure redesign to transform a command and control hierarchy into a team-based culture and structure.

Here are some beginning steps any organization can take to create a teamwork culture.

1.  Agree on a set of teamwork principles.

 How will all of you relate and work together?