DisruptHR Aberdeen – The Emotional Life of Teams: Navigating One of HR’s Complexities, Jen Spalding

The Emotional Life of Teams: Navigating One of HR’s Complexities

Jen Spalding, Organisation Development Consultant

I’m going to talk to you about the emotional complexity of teams and how as HR people we have to face into that or sometimes we ignore that. So one of the questions I wanted to put to you is, how curious can we be about team life? What is it that we can be curious about? The teams in our organization, our leadership teams, our own teams, and how teams work together inside our organizations? And what about your very first team? What was the very first team that you were part of? What was the most amazing team that you’ve been part of? So you think about the best team you’ve been part of. What was it like? What kind of words come to mind? What was going on? What was happening? How did it make you feel? And if you think about the best experience you had in teams, just by a show of hands, how many teams, how many people were thinking about how it made them feel?

Yeah, exactly. It’s all about how we feel. I put a little nursery rhyme here. This is something that my mom used to do to me, and it’s something that happened in my very first team. Our family is our very first team. And I just wanted to talk a bit about the fact that we learn in relationships and trust in relationships. And that’s how we learn about patterns and connections. And how we understand what inspires us in teams? How we feel we belong? How we practice courage? How we practice resolving feelings, difficult feelings, like envy? And if you think about the team that you’re part of now, what kind of team comes to mind? Is it a team where you can talk about how you feel and what the social connections are? Can you reflect in that? And is wellbeing something that you can talk about? Is innovation something you can talk about? Or is it just about performance?

Obviously we all want to be part of resilient teams, something where we are really good at doing the task and we’re also really good at thinking about our wellbeing, innovating together. But we do find ourselves in dysfunctional teams where we don’t perform the task and it’s actually, there’s a lot of conflict, and we don’t care. So this is a way that we can start to think about what there, how we might think about teams inside organizations. On the left, we’ve got what’s the internal world of the teams that we’re part of, the teams that your leaders are part of, and then what’s going on outside the team. But you can just see how all of these group processes, often very unconscious and never talked about. Thought about that, maybe never spoken about. All make up, what our individual experiences of teams are and how they’re so varied and different across organizations.

So I just put something here around team coaching skills, because we often find ourselves as HR people trying to intervene and give advice to teams. But it sits on a framework of how we might be able to observe out loud or listen or playback what we’re hearing in teams and how we can ask questions to raise awareness. Because what we find in the HR literature about what the trends are is that leadership development, change management culture. But what’s going on inside organizations are still the highest priorities and will continue to be based than what we’ve heard a lot about tonight.

So I wanted to start thinking about what are the questions you want to ask the teams that you work in and work with, everything that you wanted to ask but didn’t dare. So camera’s at the ready for some questions that you might start practicing within your teams. So we start thinking about culture and leadership, that’s often where we start. You know what are the, how does the team climate, and how does that get enacted in our vision and values? What are the desirable behaviours that get rewarded that we notice or don’t talk about in teams? And that really helps us think about our leadership and our culture. And we start to think about how we formalize these things in teams. What systems and processes are out of alignment with what we want to create? Are we counting what really counts? Are we really facing up to what needs to happen in our teams? And are we focusing on the right things?

We think about how we’re evolving as a team? What do we, what are we discovering about ourselves? If we ask ourselves these questions, what can we learn? Are we really challenging ourselves about what we think and why we really exist as a team? There’s a lot of teams who don’t really know why they exist and they’re making up as they go along. And then thinking about what’s happening outside the team. Are we aligned to our communications? Are we doing what we say we’re doing? Are we really aligned with our identity and purpose? And are we communicating that effectively? And are we listening to the people that we really most need to listen to? Are we getting that feedback that tells us you what it is it that we need to hear and are being brave enough to really take that information in and process it as a team?

And then if we were really thinking about wanting to be an innovative team, if an industry league table was published, where would we feature? And then who would be next in our industry who would come next? I put a couple of things here that we can do. We can think about our HR priorities for sure, but there’s something about how can we develop the reflexivity in teams for them to ask themselves these questions? And there’s something about creating the psychological safety as you work with your teams to have a go at asking these questions. And then of course, I like academic work as well. There’s lots of really good literature out there about where we can learn more about what’s happening in teams and where you can get more information from experts around the psychological life of teams.


See Jen delivering her presentation at DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://vimeo.com/876125097

More talks from DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://hunteradams.co.uk/blog/disrupthr-aberdeen/