When team members connect and learn to appreciate and trust one another, the team itself becomes more productive.
Whether you’re a team leader, CEO, or simply a team member who wishes to create a healthier work environment, team building is one of the first words that comes to mind.
But what’s the magic ingredient for team productivity? According to many leaders, it’s team gratitude and compassion.
No matter how many resources you put into updating your work environment, and how many events you throw to get all of your team members to work together with one another, they must first learn to appreciate each other mutually.
In this article, you’ll find out about the many benefits of cultivating gratitude and compassion as a part of your team-building practice and, of course, the tips for how to do it.
Why Are Team Gratitude and Compassion Important?
Gratitude is most talked about within the scope of personal development where therapists and coaches advise their clients to create lists of things they’re grateful for each day. In this sense, gratitude is mainly about cultivating a more optimistic mindset and being more aware of the positives than negatives.
This sort of mindset can become particularly beneficial in times of global distress, particularly now that countries worldwide are recovering from a health crisis. Furthermore, daily work can make team members feel stressed and tense, which, for many reasons, can create a much more hostile work environment.
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Now that more businesses operate either partially or fully online, thanks to the necessity to enable work from home, it’s become more difficult for teams to enjoy the benefits of casual human contact.
However, the compromised ability to work in a more spontaneous, relaxed work environment and shift to online communication also affected how teams interpret each others’ performance and messages.
The more employees communicate indirectly, the less they’re able to get that instant affirmation and reassuring feedback that comes from a single smile or head tilt—even during rush hours.
Whether your workplace is adapting to working from outside of the office or you otherwise feel the need to make the work atmosphere healthier, you should look toward cultivating gratitude. But why gratitude?
Recent study results showed that those teams which paid more attention to team building were more productive than those that emphasized results and productivity. But how can this be? As it turned out, the teams that nurtured people’s appreciation were better at solving problems and dealing with interruptions.
It could be that some of the following gratitude factors affect improved team productivity:
Gratitude is all about being aware of traits we appreciate in other people. As such, it helps prevent team members from becoming hostile to one another. When tensions begin to arise, it’s easier for people to calm down if they mutually respect one another.
Resolving conflicts requires willingness to overcome mutual differences. In toxic workplaces, people anticipate the worst outcomes, so they get defensive in advance and act more abrasively and passive aggressively.
When there’s trust between coworkers, interactions and anticipations are positive since they anticipate a positive outcome.
Gratitude increases self-awareness. Employees who practice gratitude are better able to observe their own thoughts and feelings. People with higher self-awareness are more likely to communicate productively and make an effort to put themselves in the other’s shoes (be compassionate).
People who trust their coworkers work with more confidence and security. Since they don’t anticipate danger or negativity coming their way, they’re free to be themselves and get out of their comfort zone.
For people to have integrity, it’s necessary that the work environment is supportive and compassionate. When team members can be vulnerable with one another, they’re more likely to be comfortable admitting errors and learning from their mistakes.
How Gratitude Increases Team Productivity
Gratitude and compassion further foster those personality traits that enable employees to do their best work. Now, let’s discuss how gratitude directly affects team productivity:
A secure work environment fosters cooperation. People who are aware of their coworkers’ positive sides are able to bond using each others’ strengths instead of clashing around weaknesses.
For example, if one of the team members is more innovative but not so good with deadlines, other members may focus more on their creative contributions and provide them extra support with time management.
Everyone makes mistakes. However, when people lack self-awareness, they may observe only others’ errors and fail to see their own. People who have empathy anticipate support, so they have more courage to “give each other a pass” for slight errors.
Furthermore, when the team is compassionate and supportive, they’re more likely to join forces for the sake of the job well done—even if fixing a particular error isn’t in their job requirement. Being loyal to the company is good, but better productivity is achieved when team members aim to lift each other up.
Respect within the team encourages more honest and productive communication and feedback. Team members who mutually respect one another want to acknowledge and value each member’s opinion.
As opposed to that, toxic team environments make communication competitive, so members get more focused on being louder and “right” than on actual problem-solving.
Being grateful ensures that team members think about each other’s positive traits. That way, they better understand each other’s skills and strengths. Those talents can then be used for the team to self-organize and assign tasks and parts of projects to those employees who are best suited to complete them.
Productive teams and their members hold themselves accountable for their words, actions, and work results. However, accountability entails security and willingness to open up and trust their team.
How to Cultivate Compassion and Gratitude Within Your Team
Now that you’re persuaded in the importance and benefits of cultivating gratitude and compassion within your team, let’s talk about the best strategies for doing it:
Craft a Democratic Company Policy
First and foremost, it’s necessary that your employee’s rights and duties are fairly defined. Also, you should have clear, honest criteria for evaluation, promotions, penalties, and all other aspects that relate to productivity.
Your employees are going to be more likely to trust one another and appreciate each other’s contributions when they feel like they’re in a fair work environment. Fair workplace environment ensures that people are motivated and feel in control of their performance results.
Mandate Positive Peer Evaluations
Gratitude fosters contemplation, curiosity, and intellectual flexibility. For example, when an employee is asked to rate one of their teammates, they may focus only on the currently prevailing impression.
However, if you task them with emphasizing only their peer’s positive contributions, you enhance their awareness of each other’s skills.
Design surveys and evaluation forms in such ways as to always consider both positives and the negatives of people, projects, and certain aspects of business. Employees should be encouraged to make more complex analysis of whatever issues they’re rating to avoid having a one-dimensional view.
Encourage Open Communication
Aside from being able to share positive feedback with one another, employees also need to be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings freely and openly. Do your best to allow as much freedom and honesty in communication as possible.
Recent studies showed that, when people are unable to express their opinions and feelings, they begin to exaggerate the negative aspects of their coworkers, job, and the entire organization. This is potentially harmful, as it depletes motivation to do one’s best.
Set an Example
Model gratitude to your employees. Be the one who starts and ends the day on a high note, reflecting on the good work done previously. Likewise, encourage employees to start their opinions and feedback on a positive note before they share criticism or a piece of negative review.
That way, each of the team members know that they’re being seen as a wholesome person and that their talents and contributions are being noticed—even when they’re wrong or need to improve their performance.
All employees love perks, benefits, and small signs of affection from each other and their management. Print out company office supplies to include phrases like, “Thank you,” “We appreciate you,” “Great job,” etc. That way, you remind your employees that you’re focusing primarily on their strengths and contributions.
This achieves that your employees take both positive and negative feedback more seriously, since they don’t think of you as one to fish for errors. When people trust their coworkers, both positive and negative feedback is taken more seriously.
Cultivating gratitude and compassion within your team is very easy and practical. All you need to do is create a trusting, uplifting atmosphere with clear evaluation criteria.
Then, encourage employees to practice daily gratitude so that they’re more focused on each other’s positive sides, skills, and personal and professional strengths than they are on weaknesses.
Remember: A grateful team is a productive team. Why? They’re encouraged to hold themselves accountable, appreciate their job, and be more honest in evaluating and communicating with one another.