How to Build Resilient Teams

Numerous psychological studies have shown (for example – by George Bonanno) that there’s one trait that all resilient people have in common. That’s the ability to sustain a positive outlook in a situation when faced with stress and issues that arise. We’ve all heard people say to us ‘be positive’, so this may sound a little like a cliché, but by being positive improves flexibility – and employees that do maintain a positive attitude approach adversity as a challenge, instead of a problem.

With this being said, building a resilient team can be done by helping to create a positive atmosphere, social support and trust. Below are 5 tips on how to build a resilient team

A Clear Purpose

Employees that tend to have a strong sense of why, perform tasks with less energy and enthusiasm as a mountain of studies have shown. I mean, this makes sense doesn’t it? It’s hard to feel enthused about a job if we aren’t sure whether our hard work is even required.

This kind of belief held by employees directly affects their ability to confront and carry out difficult and stress-inducing tasks.

On the other side of the spectrum however, understanding organisational objectives and allowing the employees to see how they fit into the bigger picture can help them develop a sense of purpose. The feeling that they know that they are required, they are valued and that they do serve a purpose.

Great leaders with incredibly resilient teams working alongside them often nurture the idea that everyone has a common goal and they can easily bring everyone together to achieve that goal. This sense of purpose directly builds resilience among your employees – and that’s exactly what you want.

Build a trust and support network

Trust when building a resilience team means that you need to learn to rely on team members to do the right thing and to have each other’s back at times of adversity.

This would typically apply to:

  • Employers, managers and supervisors all trusting their employees-
  • Employees trusting their senior managers
  • Employees trusting their co-workers

Trust can be a source of safety for employees by allowing them to feel comfortable and open to share their own thoughts, views and opinions. The key to establishing a trust network is by communicating to your team with honesty and transparency. Get in more team meetings, in informal settings where they can mix, talk and ping around ideas – building this trust and support network will be hugely advantageous in the long run.


Every great leader of any size of team in the world has a sense of mindfulness towards their co-workers. Mindfulness is a psychological process based on bringing attention to experiences happening in a present moment.

It’s all about being connected, present and aware. It’s again proven that organisations and leaders that apply mindful tactics are better equipped to deal with stress. All the while mindfulness can improve resilience, creativity, productivity and emotional intelligence.Some useful tactics include:- To start work with a small session of meditation- Take a moment to review the events of a day before they leave the office- Pause throughout the day to be fully present in between tasks

Cognitive restructuring

Language and the way we express ourselves often shapes our thoughts. Thoughts then further influence the intensity of our feelings and how we think about situations and what we think of them. Using negative language may develop negative and unhelpful patterns in our minds which will reduce resilience.

Cognitive restructuring is a technique that fundamentally challenges negative and unhelpful patterns that undoubtedly occur in most peoples’ minds. Examples:

  • It’s not worth working on a task unless the task can be done absolutely flawlessly
  • I must be liked by everyone, all the time
  • Avoid challenges and confrontations– don’t face them
  • It’s horrible when things don’t go the way I thought they would

Leaders should carefully pay attention to any potentially negative predictions that their employees may express. Negative patterns in the minds of anyone within a team will make it harder for employees to consider positive outcomes over negative ones – and this can have a disastrous effect on resilience.

For more information of building resilience in the workplace – see this great article by the Resilience Institute: