This is the third blog in a series about the science behind the right environment for success. See the related posts at thebottom of this article for the others.So you don’t have the time to build relationships in your team? Think again.
Imagine this. You are playing an online video game with three other players in cyberspace. It is a simple game: it literally just involves hitting a ball to one another. All of a sudden the other two players stop including you, they just keep hitting the ball to each other and you no longer get a turn. How do you feel?
Social Pain = Physical Pain
This was actually an experiment carried out a few years ago. And, even though it’s only a simple game and even though you don’t even know the people you are supposedly playing against, you feel pretty lousy. Painfully so. In fact the very same part of your brain that lights up for physical pain, also lights up during this social pain.
But what’s more, your ability to think clearly gets compromised as well. If you are given a problem-solving or working memory task immediately after this little episode you do significantly worse than do normally.
Social safety is one of the key elements of performing in a team. As in most of the other tips I have given under the banner of this blog, a safe social environment creates a reward response in the brain, sending out both feel-good and performance chemicals that help us perform at our mental peak.
Be clear and consistent on the team goals
- Make sure that they stay front of mind and most important. Most people are rewarded far more for individual contribution than for team performance. This needs to change so that people feel they all contribute to something bigger.
Address tension NOW
- The longer you let social tension develop the worse it becomes and the greater impact it has on people’s performance. It will be uncomfortable and our first instinct is to put it off for another time, but doing it sooner is always the better option
Take the time to build relationships
- This should be part of your agenda every time your team meets. Review sales targets, update on project developments…….and build relationships. Your team doesn’t need to know it’s part of your agenda, but every time your team gets together it is another opportunity to cement trust.
Build self-awareness and you will build other-awareness
- When you help people to become more self-aware through targeted feedback and coaching, you activate the part of their brain that thinks about other people more openly (generally because in this feedback situation most people think of themselves as though they are thinking of another person). When you activate this neural circuitry, it gets stronger.
Most people only focus on building their team once or twice a year at the annual retreat, but the truth is that it needs to be an ongoing process. Don’t miss the valuable opportunities that you have every week to keep building your people’s capability.
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