How To Build a More Resilient Teams

Teams with high levels of resilience are better able to adapt to continual change, remain motivated, and thrive in the face of adversity. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook credited the company’s high-performing and resilient workforce with their success in beating expectations despite the pandemic.

Resilient teams are essential for success in this fast-paced world. These teams make the challenge work for their benefit rather than fighting for what they have no control over. Strong teams refuse to allow external conditions to determine their output.

The good news is that you can train your team to learn and build the ability to overcome hardship. This write-up covers the characteristics of a resilient team and different approaches to building a stronger team.

What Is a Resilient Team?

Resilience is not just about thriving during adversity; it is the ability to bounce back afterward. When disaster strikes, some businesses are quick to recover and get back on track. On the other hand, some businesses either take a long time to recover or don’t make it at all.

A resilient workforce beats all odds and meets expectations, regardless of the impact of external conditions. Achieving this takes more than a few individuals that see themselves as work partners. There are a few habits that keep them together during and after difficult times.

The following are the characteristics of a resilient team:

They Share a Similar Model of Teamwork

In times of crisis, all members of the team understand and adhere to their respective duties and responsibilities. They use this mental model of teamwork to communicate, anticipate one another’s actions, and reach consensus quickly.

Group members can respond to challenges head-on and confidently when they have a shared understanding of what needs to be done. They should also understand how their roles, and the roles of others, fit into the bigger picture.

A good example was the event that happened in 2009. U.S. Airways Flight 1549’s pilot, Sully Sullenberger, and his crew performed the miraculous “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency landing. When trouble arose, Sullenberger and his crew wasted no time in responding.

There was no time to deliberate, as they were already aware of the proper course of action. The entire action transpired in three minutes and fifty seconds. However, several lives were saved thanks to Sully’s team’s meticulous planning and use of a mental model.

They Believe They Can Handle Tasks More Effectively as a Group

Besides having faith in their own abilities to succeed, team members also believe in their capacity to work together to execute tasks successfully. These teams also manage their confidence.

This is because, with excessive confidence, team members lose focus and stop looking out for warning signs of impending dangers. Likewise, if they lack confidence in their abilities individually and as a group, they will not be able to take the necessary risks.

They Can Improvise

A resilient team can improvise and come up with fresh solutions or methods for dealing with unforeseen circumstances. When faced with a challenge, teams draw on expertise from past experience and transform those ideas into fresh and creative solutions.

Resilient team members are aware of one another’s strengths, knowledge, and abilities. With this, they know how each member can contribute to solving the issue at hand.

They Feel Safe around One Another

A team is stronger when every member feels safe or is confident that they can trust their fellow partners. This means coming up with ideas that are different or creative without worrying about being criticized or singled out by other team members.

Studies have shown that team members often don’t talk about new ideas but instead talk about things that everyone already knows. This is because they are afraid of being ridiculed if they bring up something new.

On strong teams, people listen to each other’s ideas and trust that they won’t be laughed at or ignored for speaking up. This sense of safety lets members share their ideas and opinions openly and honestly. In return, it leads to more viewpoints on a particular subject matter, which could help make better decisions on how to move forward.

They Have a Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset like to take on new challenges and see failures as ways to learn and improve. This means that they are hardly beaten by difficult circumstances; instead, they look for new ways to push forward. Such a mindset also gives them insight and the ability to see good patterns even when faced with a challenge.

A Resilient Team Talks about and Practices Ways to Improve Their Well-Being

Resilient team members talk openly about and use strategies to reduce stress and avoid burnout. Research shows that debriefs are linked to lower levels of burnout. Why? Debriefs make it easier for people to share and process information.

Debriefing also gives team members a chance to help each other and encourages self-reflection and confidence in themselves. Resilient team members also encourage themselves to make time for exercise and activities that help them be more active.

Members Ask Each Other for Help

Resilient team members understand that they can’t handle everything individually. So, when the need arises, they can confidently ask their fellow members for assistance. This is also because of the trust that has grown among them. Being able to assist one another makes a group stronger in the long run.

How to Build a Resilient Team

Building a stronger team doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, persistence, and constant training of each member. The team leader should also be able to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each person, as well as allocate responsibilities to each person.

Before a leader sets out to build the team, there are a few questions that they need to answer.

  • Does my team have what it takes to be resilient?
  • Can my team members have an open and honest dialog with each other?
  • Do these individuals have what it takes to adapt to new conditions and come up with creative yet effective solutions?
  • Do my group members trust each other enough to ask for help?
  • Does each person care about their teammate?

You must be able to identify the qualities of your team so you know the best approach to making them stronger. That said, here are some ways team members can build their team’s resilience.

Practice Empathy

Empathy is an important factor that contributes to the growth of a team’s resilience. You should remember that your team members are also people who are trying to juggle their personal lives with meeting deadlines at their workplace. This means that there are times when they will feel overburdened with work, meetings, family obligations, and other responsibilities.

This is where empathy comes in. Encourage “coffee discussions” or listening sessions where each person can address challenging subjects. While doing this, allow them to speak freely and express themselves. Most workers usually report that they can’t speak openly with their leaders. Therefore, you must make them feel comfortable and not obligated to discuss these issues.

Give yourself some downtime to rest and revitalize. You can achieve this by focusing on the most important work aspects and developing ways to be flexible with timelines and deliveries. Finally, spend some time learning about the warning signs and symptoms of burnout for you and your teams. Then, find the best ways to prevent it from happening.

Label Your Emotions

Our initial response to adversity is emotional, and we must comprehend what we are feeling and why. Besides, we must confront our emotions to prevent them from clouding our judgment and actions.

Affect Labeling is a psychological approach for people to label their feelings. The simple act of identifying how we feel when an emotion is triggered has positive effects on our brains and bodies. Once you can pinpoint the exact feeling and the reason for it, you know the best approach to handling your emotions.

Build Connections

One of the most powerful emotion control methods is building relationships. Some might think it’s a waste of time. However, team members who bond with one another are more likely to stick together through tough times.

Therefore, it is important to establish learning opportunities where skills and suggestions can be shared. With this, team members get to also learn more about themselves.

When team members are working together, they all feel heard and have opportunities to make meaningful contributions. They are also aware of how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. A more engaged, productive, and resilient team is the result of its members feeling a greater sense of connection, contribution, and purpose.

Encourage Team Members to Continue Learning

Teams that learn more effectively and more quickly can easily adjust to significant changes. Encourage team members to constantly learn new things, share information, and improve their abilities. They should also be able to ask questions and keep an open “growth mindset” to promote resilience.

Set an example by actively participating in developing team talent and creating goals that they can achieve. Provide flexible work schedules and act as a mentor or coach. Continuous learning is important to develop the capabilities needed to build oneself and the team as a whole. This is also essential, as many firms require that workers can easily adapt to a change in work trends.

Focus on What You Can Control

You’ll become stuck if you try to control something you can’t. Resilient team members have self-control and feel that they, not their surroundings, determine their success. So, one of the most important steps to getting back together is realizing that most life situations are beyond your control.

Discuss as a team the occurrences you can or cannot control. Your team can concentrate on what they can truly manage by using the “Regain Your Power Canvas.” This acts as a visual tool they can use for a small exercise to learn what they can control.

This canvas uses the principles of Judo. It aims to shift the focus from the 85% of factors that render us helpless to the 15% that are within our control.

You start by working on 85% of it first, which makes you feel helpless. Use sticky notes to have participants compile a list of everything that limits them or makes them feel powerless. Each person jots down one idea on a sticky note and pastes it. Afterward, ask them to write down the reasons they feel helpless.

Next, ask everyone to identify all that is within their power. Remind them to write and use one sticky note for each idea they have, no matter how small. The idea is to show them—or to remind them—that they have more power and flexibility than they realize.

Finally, instruct participants to concentrate on finding other ways to use that power. With this, they find ways to maximize their full potential and not focus on the things they can’t control.

Grow a Support Network

Knowing when to ask for assistance or support from others is a necessary skill for resilience. Resilient team members rely on one another to get through difficulties and hardships. However, this can only be achieved when there’s a strong bond between team members.

Emmy Werner, a psychologist, studied children from poor, unstable, and chaotic families for 40 years. She found that 30% of the youngsters had successful adult lives. Many of them even outperformed their more affluent counterparts. This is because a resilient child has been “fortunate” enough to have a close relationship with a caring adult, mentor, or educator.

One way that this is achieved is through reciprocal mentorship. This is a mentoring procedure where everyone assumes a role as a mentor or mentee but switches roles periodically.

Learn Your Team’s Rhythm

The pulse of your team can tell a great deal about its health and resilience. A healthy team, like our heart, speeds up and slows down in response to obstacles and different changes.

Additionally, not every member follows the same rhythm, as not every person adapts easily when there are changes. The key is to understand how each member reacts to external events, then try to build them to be better. One of the best ways to track your team’s pulse is to use the Team Heartbeat Canvas.

This team-building practice involves mapping each team member’s highs and lows from the day they joined the team to the present. By comparing and analyzing similarities and differences, the team can find a way to improve collaboration and productivity.

It will also help leaders learn what their team experiences are when there’s a struggle. The practice can help find the best approach to keeping each team member on top of their game. This is important when there’s a major shift in their working conditions.

Focus on Facts, Not Perception

Teams need leaders to help them distinguish between facts and perceptions. The What? So What? Now What? model helps members separate perceptions from reality. It is a reflective approach that aids groups in analyzing a recent or shared experience to find improvements or take action.

Three phases make up the exercise. Understanding the event comes first, followed by making sense of the consequences and facts. Then, you decide on a course of action or fresh options. Your team’s resilience gets better if they respond to challenges from an objective perspective.

Talk Less and Listen

Listening is one of the most effective management techniques for fostering resilience in your team members. In difficult circumstances, many managers attempt to convince their staff members not to feel what they are feeling.

They make the mistake of talking more than listening to what their workers have to say. This strategy fails and causes team members to feel misunderstood, degraded, or even resentful.

Therefore, it’s best to simply listen to your people when things are difficult. As soon as your team members sense your regard and concern for them, they start to feel less overwhelmed and more hopeful.

Plus, being listened to helps individuals calm down to the point where they can begin to see a solution. When you listen, you also gain a wealth of information about their members’ struggles and how they can be assisted.

Create a Trial-And-Error Culture

Most leaders barely tolerate mistakes, forgetting that these errors are bound to happen. The good thing about mistakes is that people learn from them. So, when a team fails at achieving a goal or meeting a specific target, its leader is meant to encourage its members. In other words, pick up the pieces and try again.

With a trial-and-error culture, you turn failures into experiences and lessons. So, your team will be able to effectively handle a similar situation in the future.

Give Your Team a Purpose

Adversity and difficult situations are simpler to tolerate when one is living with a purpose. Teams that believe they are a part of something greater than themselves don’t let immediate problems get in the way of their long-term goals.

So, once in a while, you should remind your team of the reason why they are working. You can do this during sessions where you discuss how you can move the business forward.


Resilience is a characteristic that takes a long time to build. Similar to lifting weights, you have to keep going to see results. This also means being consistent with the actions you take towards building your team’s resilience.

The good thing is that resilience always pays off, as stronger teams are more productive. Even if there is a crisis, your team can easily handle it and bounce back afterward.