The Resilience Series – Article 4: The Impact Workplace Communication and Relationships on Performance

Our Health Economist analysed a random sample of 500 executives, like yourself, who undertook an Executive Health assessment with Ford Health. These executives are at senior manager level or above, and come from diverse national and multinational businesses across Australia. The businesses represented include professional services, mining, resource and energy; construction and engineering; agribusiness and technology sectors.

We analysed data on work hours, self-rated work performance scores, self-reported stress as well as objective stress, anxiety and depression scores. This provided a snapshot of what impacts upon work performance at an individual level in corporate Australia, during a time when many are under pressure to produce more with less.

A resilient team copes with challenges to project success, functioning as a single entity to achieve a successful outcome regardless of obstacles and does so without damage to the team members.  But what makes a team or group resilient?

Our own executive data supports the significant role that communication plays in work performance.

When we asked Executives to indicate what they felt had been the biggest negative impact on their work performance in the month prior to their assessment, the highest rated factor was:

Workplace Communication and Direction

 

This was rated higher than workload and non-work-related personal issues. In our sample group, 25% indicated this as a negative impact on performance.  And when we analysed the responses across the attendees from any given company, that figure can rose to as high as 30%, depending on the organisation. 

 

So, how a group interacts and communicates has enormous potential to reduce performance of individuals within that group, and thus impact the overall success of the team in achieving outcomes.  And with the globalisation of many businesses, good communication becomes harder and yet even more important as conference calls and emails form the backbone of regular contact within teams.

When we think of resilience, we tend to see it as a trait of individuals. However, the concept of resilience also applies to groups, teams and, indeed whole organisations. 

Much research has been done in this area and the work of Horne and Orr (1998) is a useful model for examining what actually makes a difference.  This model suggests that you can think of this as the 7Cs of Group resilience:

1.      Community (shared sense of purpose)

2.      Competence (capacity and skills to meet demands)

3.      Connections (Relationships)

4.      Commitment (trust and goodwill)

5.      Communication (good communication to make sense and derive order)

6.      Co-ordination (working together)

7.      Consideration (attention to the human factor and consideration of others)

 

The problem is that when people think of getting things done in a team working on a project, and team capability to achieve success, they think only of 1 C – The competence factor.  Capacity and skills.  But as you can see, that is only one seventh of the whole picture.  The other components are actually all about how you relate to and communicate with one another.

 

So, if you want to help your team achieve great goals in the workplace, remember that it is not just about competencies and delivering on time.  Fostering good communication is an investment that will pay dividends in creating a resilient team that can weather the demands regardless of the project.

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