Things for organizations to try: Improving Team relationships

Although teams generally control the quality of their relationships, they still need support from leaders and HR.

1 Team relationships - org

1. Create a rhythm for your meetups

Relationships are built on frequent interaction, with occasional moments for deeper connection. Knowing there are regular meetups planned helps colleagues feel more secure and means they can better weather all sorts of difficulties.

How to do it:

  • If your organization is widely distributed, try to meet once a year for an extended period - like a retreat.
  • Organizations that are less distributed should try to meet once a quarter or bi-annually.
  • Find a rhythm that works for most and stick to it.

2. Support individuals and teams in the new ways of working

Many teams are back in the office or are working on a hybrid basis, navigating the realities of what does and doesn’t work. HR teams have supported transitions back to work after periods of ill health, maternity and sabbatical for a long time, and they will have a wealth of experience and insight in your specific organization, so use it!

How to do it:

  • Run sessions with people managers so they can discuss the needs and concerns of both individuals and teams. This may include: managing work/life balance; anxieties around travel; understanding and celebrating the benefits of being together again; and creating opportunities for teams to strengthen relationships.
  • Encourage managers to see new ways of working as an opportunity to use what we learnt in lockdown about taking breaks, setting boundaries and building wellbeing into every day.

3. Cultivate a trusting environment - and start with leadership

Good team relationships need trust and trusting relationships need a trusting environment. Renowned psychologist John Gottman says trust is built in the smallest of moments. Every interaction with colleagues and people we manage presents us with a choice: to engage empathetically with one another or to decide not to invest.

How to do it:

  • Give some control away, and in doing so take the first step towards creating a trusting environment.
  • The next time team relationships are up for discussion, ask each other: What have we done to create a trusting environment this quarter? How have we connected authentically with colleagues recently?