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Successful Teams – Clarity Provided by Oracles from Omaha, Harvard, and Tibet

Teams (well, good teams) are the key to worker wellness and retention

When you add quiet quitting to the Great Resignation, employees are clearly saying sayonara to the old ways of working in record numbers. What’s new? A mix of layffos, low unemployment, and high quit rates happening simultaneously. Are conflicting signals the new norm?

How are companies supposed to keep teams focused and high performing in this environment? 

We pay attention to signals, and have connected a few dots based on advice from three oracles of human nature for clues on what the hey is going on with teams. Two are from the business world and the third has some rather solid spiritual street cred. 

They all point to the same answer:

Teams empowered to co-safeguard personal values are the future (of both high performance and retaining key employees). 

Death of the Ideal Worker

First off, take the 10,000-foot view. In the past, the always-on “ideal worker” was our culture’s narrow view of a successful professional.  

That contract is broken. We have some ideas why, but going into that would make this a very long post. Let’s just say that:

  • a global pandemic 
  • more women in the workforce 
  • shifting generational values about work 

all have something to do with knocking the ideal worker off his pedestal. 

And yes, he’s a he. We say “his” pedestal because the ideal worker was personified in the post-war, 1950s company man persona. Think Don Draper.

At the root of the broken contract is wellbeing. Don Draper was not a flourishing human, living his best life. He was in a cage. People by and large do not want to have to choose between their health (physical or mental – although isn’t it all one body?) and their job anymore. 

But don’t take our word for it. Let’s look at 3 oracles to help us divine the future of high-performing teams. 

Three Oracles Divine the Future of Teams and Employee Retention

Oracle from Omaha – Warren Buffet says “Invest in yourself.”

We all know Warren is a brilliant investor, but have you seen his recent hot tip? Invest in yourself. Reap the ROI of investing in your health and life-long learning. 

Our CEO Sally Thornton recently took the ideas of individual wellbeing a step further in her talk at the Running Remote conference, (link to video), where she also introduces us to our next oracle.

The divination? It turns out that individual commitments to wellbeing are essential, but not sufficient in keeping teams high performing. We’re back to our famous improv rules for life…wellbeing is a “yes, and…” as it’s both individual + team. 

Oracle from Harvard – Dr. Leslie Perlow

Sally had the joy of working with Dr. Leslie Perlow on her practical (and longitudinally significant) approach to unlocking high performance + well being on teams. Dr. Perlow spotlights how we must rally together to safeguard the collective goal of having a life outside of work. When teams have collective goals about taking time off, all the good numbers go up (e.g. wellbeing, creativity, retention, clear communication) and all the bad numbers go down (e.g. mistakes, days off from illness, undesired turnover). 

The same holds true for wellbeing perks too (whether on site or remote teams cheer each on virtually). If teams aren’t on the same page about supporting one another in taking time off, the benefits won’t be realized. In the Running Remote video,  (Well-being video link), Sally also shares the solid neuroscience data backing up why naps are an individual and collective good at work. At one large tech company, nap pods were installed but employees resisted the nap rooms until (guess???)…until the company made it less likely for team members to see who was taking the nap. So Sally shares with anyone who will listen that she takes naps daily…would this cause side-eye on your team (or from you)? 

Consider how we impact one another in our wellbeing…because an individual who follows the neuroscience will likely shut those wellbeing ideas down if they are feeling judged by team members…

Oracle from Tibet – the Dalai Lama’s secret to success.

Dr. Perlow’s research is hard data that backs up what the Dalai Lama teaches, based on data downloads from an older source. 

His Holiness wrote a best-selling book on happiness, yet he says the secret to not just happiness – but success – is found in the team setting. To wit:

“Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life.”

The secret to employee happiness – and retention – is not in additional wellness programs or a flexible hybrid work schedule for the exhausted ideal worker. Those things can help, but, as Dr. Perlow’s work also points out, the key is in the team interaction.

The New TLDR for Successful Teams

Research – and the wisdom of the ages – shows us the secret to happy and high-performing employees is a shared responsibility not just for team work, but each others’ well being. 

Rather than thinking of more things to do for (or to…) individual employees, companies are recognizing that the ideal worker stereotype is broken. Helping teams to rally together around wellbeing goals, even if it’s simply starting with the small stuff, like naps or collaboration boundaries, capitalizes on how humans naturally sustain high performance.

You don’t have to wait until the new year to try these ideas. ‘Tis the season of gratitude and giving; we can’t think of a better time to begin. We are here for you if you’d like a partner in doing your best work, and creating the conditions for your team members to feel grateful about working with you!