Team Work and Care

Teams are complicated beasts and require special care and attention. New research shows how to care for teams and ourselves.

If you are working on an innovation or service design, chances are very likely you are working on or with a team. While you might not have a uniform, mascot, or supporters section waving flags, our work teams still need support and encouragement.

Team Work

Large organizations, partnerships or coalitions often involve multi-system teams have to work together across cultures (organizational and others) to create a product or service while navigating different priorities. It’s a challenge that often leads to discouragement. New research shows that multi-system teams often struggle with the appropriate ‘norms’ of behaviour and this struggle can deplete their energy, enthusiasm, and performance.

Why does this matter? The scale of our innovation efforts and management of it is critical to maintaining the energy needed to work on large multi-system problems well. Involving senior operations members to oversee the collective well-being and health of the group by connecting them to a shared purpose, project culture, and individual interests is one way to help.

Teamwork and Anxiety

For some, working on a team is an anxiety-producing affair. Research from the London School of Economics has found that while team-based work raises organizational performance, it can also raise stress-levels and performance-related anxiety among team members. Fear of judgement, lack of control, and the social challenges of navigating group-based responsibilities can have a serious negative impact on workers.

Why this matters. The lesson is that building teams require attention to the task and the well-being of those doing the task to create sustainable benefits for everyone. Short-term performance might increase through team-based work, but if the mental health issues aren’t considered, these performance gains might be short-lived.

Thanks for reading. Be good to yourself and your team-mates. Working together brings many riches and risks and we need to acknowledge them both.

Interested in learning more about this and other innovation performance issues? Subscribe to the Censemaking Innovation Newsletter and get the best of innovation to your inbox. These articles were featured in our last issue.

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

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