You might think you have a healthy team. However, much like a stress test is the real measurement of heart health in a performance situation, team health issues are usually overlooked until the team is under pressure. That’s when imbalances and toxic tendencies will become evident, causing what seemed to be a healthy team to topple.

A Healthy Team Dynamic Requires Meeting Human Needs

Just as compromised heart function shows up in daily life and is often ignored until performance stress brings it into focus, compromised team health has symptoms that show up in little, insidious ways. Any time a leader tells a story about a team breakdown or blow up I soon discover what signs the team exhibited that were overlooked or brushed off because they weren’t “that bad.” Until they were.

When the body isn’t healthy we know it needs something. More exercise, dietary changes, less anxiety, more rest. The same is true for human teams. In fact, what humans need for team performance and actualization of potential is just as universal as what our bodies need for optimal physical performance. I break these needs down into what I call The 6 Facets of Human Needs™.

When you assess team health through the lens of these needs you might very well uncover why your apparently healthy team is producing less than ideal outcomes.

Clarity – Without It People are Confused

Our sense of safety depends on knowing “how things are” and what is expected of us. If you frequently sense confusion or uncertainty from your team or if you often hear phrases like, “What I don’t understand is …” you need to look at where your team might lack clarity.

Connection – Without It You have Team Dysfunction

Humans are basically herd animals. We become dysfunctional if we don’t have a sense of belonging. The dysfunction that comes from a lack of connection is one of the easiest to notice, but also the most often misinterpreted of the six human needs.

Contribution – Without It You have a Series of Distractions

Do you notice that there are a lot of distractions coming up in your team meetings or that people seem “checked out” or “otherwise engaged” from team goals? That happens when people aren’t being allowed to contribute at their highest level. They naturally disengage by mentally and emotionally being “elsewhere” or they try to get “back in the game” by contributing even when what they are contributing becomes a distraction from the real goal.

Challenge – Without It You get Complacency

Another cause of “checked out” behavior is a lack of healthy challenges. This shows up as complacency, a desire to “play it safe” or do enough to get by. Humans are naturally wired to strive. They’ll be healthier and happier when you give them something to strive for.

Consideration – Without It Anything can be Disregarded

We hear a lot about the human need for appreciation. But even deeper than that is the need to have their individual humanity considered. Your team needs to know you see them, not just as “humans doing” – bodies and brains there to perform a function – but as unique human beings.

Confidence – Without It People are Apprehensive

The attribute we most look for, the one that can move mountains, is confidence. Without it, people are timid, apprehensive, even emotionally needy. The wonderful thing is that meeting the other five needs will also build confidence!

When you identify and address the areas where you can improve your ability to meet these six basic human needs you’ll find that your team will not only pass their next “stress test” with flying colors, but also turn in a greatly improved performance under any circumstances.

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