Building Team Resilience

The Finance Team of a faith based charity were struggling to deal with the demands being placed on them as recession bit. The organisation was seeing donations reduce and the expectations on the team increase. Difficult decisions were making them unpopular, stress related illness had increased. and a freeze on new appointments was increasing the daily pressures on individuals. The Finance Director invited Carole Pemberton to come and work with the team because he felt that both his own and the team’s resilience were being impacted.

The team were invited to complete a team resilience questionnaire developed by Carole, which allowed them to assess themselves against key dimensions of resilience including purpose confidence, social support, flexibility, proactivity and emotional control. The findings highlighted that despite the pressures on them, it was a team that retained confidence in their skills and were flexible in their problem solving. However, they were becoming largely responsive to other people’s demands because they had not defined their function’s purpose clearly enough. Their shared organisational commitment to a Christian faith across the organisation was being assumed to mean that people were working to the same shared agenda. In reality, this was not the case. The team had also lost sight of the need to support each other and to recognise when they could offer help and should ask for help.

The outcome was an acceptance of the need for the team to clearly define its purpose and to present that to senior management, as the basis for prioritising what could and could not be addressed within the reality of constraints. It also enabled the creation of an environment where people were looking out for each other and being willing to offer help in the knowledge that they could do the same, without being judged as failing. The output was a team which felt more connected to each other, more confident in their capability and better equipped to manage expectations rather than being managed by others’ expectations.