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How to Help Your Team be Healthier

Practical Tips to Help Your Team be More Highly Effective

A recent Harvard Business Review article indicated that high-performing teams do these five things differently: phone calls, meetings, relationship building, appreciation, and authenticity.

We’ve known for years that meeting management and appreciation are frequent characteristics of high performing teams.

And our class dedicated to creating safe, healthy, high-performing teams includes authenticity as a make-or-break characteristic of a healthy team.

One of the findings pointed to team members communicating in ways that achieve the goals, even when it’s hard - which resonates with our communication principles.

My personal favorite, though, was the finding that pointed to the value of talking about non-work stuff at work. Did you catch that? Building relationships at work requires that we talk about more than just work. It’s about connecting with others and building relationships around more than the forms we’re filing, customers we’re serving, or the procedures we’re following. It’s about who we are as people, what makes us tick, what lights us up, and it’s about how we deepen our friendships.

Okay, so that’s all interesting enough, but what do we do about it?


I’m offering a handful of practical tips to help you help your team be a more highly effective team.


How to be a team that picks up the phone

Talk about your communication preferences as a team.
  • Take 5 minutes at your next team meeting and ask this simple question, “if it were up to you, how would you have us communicate with each other?”
  • Ask the follow up question, “specifically, what do you value most about that communication approach?” 
  • Once you’ve heard from everyone and have a clear picture of everyone’s preferences, if the predominant wasn’t phone call or video call, then try this question “what are the circumstances when a call or video call would be faster, more effective, and a better use of time?” 
  • Now that you know everyone’s preference, make an effort to use those with each person. And now that you’ve had a chance to talk about the times when a call is a more effective approach, make a team-wide commitment to call at those moments.

How to be a team that has better meetings

It sounds pretty basic at this point, especially since we’ve been teaching this for years, but spending another few minutes on these very simple tips can make a world of difference.
  • First, make sure every meeting has a clear purpose or objective. If your purpose is to “discuss,” reconsider whether a meeting is the right format, or if you should have lunch or a social hour together.
  • Second, make sure there is some level of organization for your meeting. If there’s not a pre-published agenda, then take a few moments at the beginning of the meeting to prioritize how you’ll use your time together.
  • Third, make sure that everyone is clear on everyone’s role at the discussion. There’s no point letting Arman get distracted by not knowing why Carla is in the meeting in the first place.
  • Fourth, take a quick 30 seconds to establish shared expectations, or group norms. These simple operating rules help us help ourselves stay on track in any given meeting. They include ideas like the following: start and stop on time; limit ourselves to one conversation at a time; use electronics by exception; participate actively; if you have a question, ask;, etc.

How to be a team that bonds better

Make time in your meetings for “pre-chat” or “post chat”. Honestly, there’s no reason that all of our meetings have to last a full hour. Instead, let’s shorten them by 10 minutes or more, and do this…
  • For the first five minutes or the last five minutes of any scheduled meeting time, exchange personal highlights from the week. I know an executive leadership team that faithfully has a few minutes of “show and tell” at the beginning of each of their meetings, and that has deepened their bonds and relationships as a team.
Outside of scheduled meeting times, make arrangements to meet up to do things together - sporting events, meals, meet-ups for drinks or ice cream, workouts, volunteer or service activities - the possibilities are endless. It doesn't have to be complex or expensive, just something that you can do in a way that lets you spend time in conversation together, at least periodically.
  • I have a client who, for many years, has had a team that meets almost every week for an hour right after work one day a week. They've become such good friends in addition to colleagues, and their team at work is strong.

How to be a team that appreciates more freely

Just last week, I shared another post on appreciation that had some tips on how to do this, and here's another quick highlight
  • Practice saying "thank you" and meaning it.
  • Spend at least a little time talking about and getting to know each team member's language of appreciation
  • Seek out ways to be creative in your expressions of appreciation so that it doesn't get stale.

How to be a team that shows up authentically

This last one cuts right to the heart of the healthiest teams. The healthiest teams are those who are authentic. Here are some things you can practice doing to demonstrate more authenticity at work and in your team
  • Show up at work as yourself 
  • Practice and share freedom to be great and freedom to have less-than-great days
  • Celebrate successes as well as learn from failures and setbacks 
  • Acknowledge disappointment as well as joy.
  • Say “I'm sorry”, and “let's do better”.

What about you? How do you help your team? Share in a comment below!


Topics: YP, Sinikka Waugh, Communication & Collaboration, Leadership & Influence

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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