High-performing teams have several characteristics:
● Open Communication
● Clear Sense of Purpose
● Mutual Respect
It turns out that kindness is just as important in a professional organization as communication and collaboration. Let’s explore how kindness shows up in each of these hallmarks of high-performing teams:
A team that can openly communicate has grasped the importance of active listening as well as thoughtful speaking. Small gestures, such as smiling when greeting someone while passing in the hallway or beginning an email or instant message with a compliment, are examples of showing kindness in the workplace that can go a long way to ensuring your coworkers are receptive to what you have to say or suggest. Active listening shows other employees that you are approachable and also open to their ideas or questions. Speaking clearly and concisely when delivering information or requests shows that you respect coworkers’ time and responsibilities.
Clear Sense of Purpose
Every successful nonprofit organization or team has a purpose. Kind teams have an easier time of moving together toward fulfilling that purpose. Backbiting, infighting and gossiping undermine individual and corporate efforts—and, if widely known, will probably undermine your bottom line by impacting donor relationships and giving. All of which undermines your ability to meet your purpose. Being understanding and accepting when a team member is experiencing a challenge and helping some way can help keep up the momentum as you move toward your stated outcomes and goals.
Mutual Trust and Respect
For a team to trust their leader and each other, there has to be an atmosphere of openness and respect. These are only achievable if you treat one another with kindness. If a leader consistently takes all of the credit or shows favoritism, they undermine the entire team—and can expect declining results. Likewise, individuals who don’t pull their own weight, create drama or sow divisiveness will negatively impact the team’s dynamic and effectiveness.
A team that repeats the same actions over and over and over may look very successful on the surface. But what happens when their routine is disrupted– when they must suddenly work from home or deliver services virtually because of a global pandemic? Flexible teams can not only recognize the need to do things differently but also move through acknowledging and accepting the disruption to performing well in their new normal. That’s not to say the transition or new process will be perfect, but the team will work together to address and correct any bumps in the road while being committed to moving forward together, leaving no one struggling or straggling behind.
Empathy and Kindness
Empathetic leaders and team members are focused on individual and group health and growth; they have seen the importance of nurturing and retaining passionate and productive people. They make it an effort to know the people they work with personally and inspire true dedication to the mission.
Employees and leaders with these traits may result in high-performing teams, but they can also create a culture where empathy and kindness are the norm. And then just watch what that organization can do!
By Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS