Building Resilience: Strategies for Overcoming Stress as a TeamNov 17, 2023
Stress can make or break a team. In most cases, teamwork is the only way that organizations thrive. It can be difficult to manage your own stress, let alone be responsible for an entire team. However, it's important to learn techniques to manage stress in order to build a resilient team that withstands adverse situations within an organization. Work in corporate environments is often demanding and complex, and the situations that workers find themselves in can often lead to burnout from high-pressure situations. For this reason, it's important to have strategies for overcoming stress as a team, as well as on an individual level.
Let's talk about the importance of resilience, the purpose of stress, and how to overcome stress as a team in a way that builds resilience.
Why is Resilience so Important?
What does it mean to be resilient? A simple definition is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties.
Resilience as an Individual- As an individual, you'll face situations on a daily basis that test your resolve and try to change who you are-as well as your goals and values. These situations can be large or small and can have a great impact on your life. Being resilient and facing stressful situations in a way that leaves you not necessarily unchanged but better than before is a quality that every employer looks for. It's the answer to the "How do you handle stressful situations?" question.
Resilience as a Team- As a team, you'll deal every day with people who are there to test you. You'll be given goals to work towards and tasks to complete that won't be easy. (If they were easy, they wouldn't have been delegated to your team). Finding a way to work together and reach that goal without splitting up the team will go a long way in the longevity of a company.
Resilience as an Organization- This permeates the structure of the entire company. Hiring resilient team members will enable the company to be more forward-thinking, plan for negative interactions, and bounce back from adverse conditions.
The Purpose of Stress
When we talk about resilience, it's usually in conjunction with dealing with large amounts of stress, which is a simple fact of everyday life in business and at home. Resilience is the way that we respond to stress and the ultimate outcome.
It's important to understand here that stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Pain Doctor's article on stress states that the purpose of stress is an evolutionary response where "the body senses an event that requires an additional burst of instinctive action, adrenaline, and cortisone in increased quantities."
When we say something like, "I'm stressed," or, "That was stressful," it usually comes as a consequence of a situation that requires a higher level of these chemicals. Our fight or flight response is tied to them, and, as a perfect example in a work scenario, the addition of adrenaline in conferences, meetings, and lectures helps the team members think on the spot in order to come up with a rapid-fire, correct response.
Not all stressful situations are negative, and the addition of these chemicals is not always a bad thing. Rather, they can play a vital role in facilitating steps that can make or break a deal. Building resilience and the way we deal with the stress of a situation is what can affect the end result.
The Qualities of a Resilient Team
A team is a group of people that work together toward a common goal. For a team to work, they need to practice qualities like honesty, resourcefulness, compassion, empathy, and humility,
Further, a resilient team believes they can effectively complete tasks together, share a common mental model of team dynamics, improvise, trust one another, and feel safe together.
Strategies and Exercises for Overcoming Stress and Building a Resilient Team
But how do you build resilience? How do you prepare your team to handle the stressful situations that they'll be part of every day? How do you teach them to go with the punches and learn how to deal with the unforeseen complications that throw you for a loop? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The Benefits of Stress- Realize the benefits of stress. And not just that, stress isn't as negative as it seems. Besides the internal chemical reactions that occur in high-stress scenarios, there are many benefits of the act of learning how to deal with it. Stress forces us to think rapidly. It creates a sense of urgency that allows us to eliminate the overthinking aspect of life that holds so many people back. Stress helps us learn lessons we might not have otherwise learned and produce solutions that we might not have otherwise found.
- Find Your Purpose- One important aspect of staying resilient as a team is to know your purpose. Why were you brought together in the first place? Knowing that, having a clear goal in mind, reasons why the team needs to stick together, and aligning each person's purpose can help the team withstand the stress that will inevitably arise.
- Acts of Kindness- Just because work is stressful and you're having a hard time managing all of the responsibilities doesn't mean that compassion needs to leave the room. It's important to practice acts of kindness to show your appreciation for the team, which will, in turn, give members an added boost of confidence and appreciation for each other.
- Find Gratitude- Find things to be grateful for. In line with practicing regular acts of kindness, gratitude goes a long way in boosting morale. It can change the attitude of someone having a bad day and make the day just a little better.
- Find Focus- In some situations, thinking clearly can be very difficult. With deadline after deadline, there are a million tasks to mark off the list and dozens of people to keep track of. When something crops up that throws the team out of balance, the vision becomes cloudy. Step back, take a breath, and look at the bigger picture. Find where you are and what your goal is, and find the next step to take that leads you to that goal. Eliminate or delegate everything that doesn't help the team reach that goal.
- Be Mindful and Practice Compassion- Everybody on your team comes from a different background with different life experiences, which can be a huge benefit to the organization. Your team offers unique perspectives that it would otherwise not have. That being said, there are things in their personal life they may not be able to talk about but will affect the level of work they can get done. It's important to gauge the situation in terms of how well they'll be able to work and who might be able to take over certain tasks. Finding focus as a team is difficult. Finding focus as an individual can be even harder. Help team members refocus on the greater goal and eliminate distractions in the workplace whenever possible.
- Model Acceptable Behavior in Stressful Situations- As a team leader, it's your responsibility to be an example of acceptable behavior. Your team is always watching, waiting for you to make a move so they'll know what they should do. This is especially important in stressful situations. Modeling the behavior that you'd like to see and is acceptable for the workplace will teach the team how they should respond to these situations. The word "respond" is especially important. Respond to the situation. Don't react to it.
Another definition of resilience is the ability of a substance to spring back into shape, referring to its elasticity. Not only will building a resilient team create longevity for a company and individual, but the added benefit of being able to spring back from being stretched thin can be attributed directly to maintaining a healthy team dynamic. Building resilience is an integral part of creating an effective and efficient team that will withstand the everyday pressures of work and increase the longevity of the organization as a whole.
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