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Check your team's well-being

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Last month I read an article by Brad Hook: What Can Resilient Technology Teach Us About Building Resilient Teams? In the article, Hook notes 5 principles that make technology systems resilient (efficient, reliable and robust) can work for our team resilience as well.

  1. REDUNDANCY: What are our back-up plans to make sure we're always live and functional?

  2. DIVERSITY: Do we have varied inputs with clear checks and balances in place?

  3. DECENTRALISATION: Is power, control and decision-making distributed?

  4. MODULARITY: Are we able to get our jobs done even if there's disruption in one area?

  5. ADAPTABILITY: How well can we respond to change? How can we proactively plan for it?

It's a good, quick read! Highly recommend.


Interconnected wellness

Hook's article got me thinking about another model we use to think about well-being, Te Whare Tapa Whā. Te Whare Tapa Whā is a Māori health model developed by Dr. Mason Durie in the 1980s.


The model focuses on the foundation and four interconnected cornerstones of people’s health and wellbeing:

  • Whenua | Roots / land - connection to nature, where you belong and the past

  • Taha tinana | physical - healthy diet, exercise and sleep

  • Taha wairua | spiritual - a sense of purpose and meaning

  • Taha whānau | social / relationships - family, friends and support networks and connections

  • Taha hinengaro | mental -thoughts, feelings and emotions

Your house of wellness

Te Whare Tapa Whā asks you to think of your well-being like a whare (house). Your house needs to be built on solid foundations. It has strong walls, holding up a balanced and watertight roof (our well-being). The house keeps the elements out and creates a great space that, according to the Healthy Homes Act, should keep you safe, dry and warm.


Strong health provides stability during bad times

You build your house to be able to cope with your environment. The goal is not to make sure the roof doesn’t get wet - it’s to make sure the rain doesn’t leak into the house. You’ll feel the negative, but you’re able to respond (roofs have gutters and drainage for a reason).


If our well-being is a balanced roof, these four areas of health are the walls that hold the roof up. When one gets weak or starts to crumble, it often impacts and brings the others down as well. Equally, when you strengthen and build one area of your health, it can help strengthen the others.


Use Te Whare Tapa Whā to check your operational well-being

Our teams and our operations need to be healthy and resilient as well. Last month I used the principles of Te Whare Tapa Whā to get leaders and teams to check their own operational well-being. The prompts below lead to some really good conversations and powerful actions/next steps.


Here are some prompts to consider under each area. Add in your own as well!


ROOTS / FOUNDATIONS:

  • How can I connect what I do with my values, beliefs and culture?

  • How does my work demonstrate my organisation's values and build our mana?

  • What context do I need to know about my organisation and my work programme?



PHYSICAL:

  • What is the physical workspace of your team?

  • What tools and resources does your team need to deliver?

  • What physical / accessibility needs do people in my team have?

  • Is there anything affecting my team member’s physical health?

  • Do we take enough mental and physical breaks during the day?


SPIRITUAL:

  • What drives and motivates you and those you work with?

  • How do you get to use your strengths at work?

  • What’s the impact of our work? Who does it help?

  • How does your team fit into the organisational context?

  • Who are our partners and stakeholders? How is our work interconnected? Do we hear from them often enough?

SOCIAL:

  • What connections are vital for my team to get their work done?

  • What can we do to strengthen our relationships?

  • How do we want others to feel when they work with us?

  • How do we make time to celebrate successes, milestones and achievements?

  • How do we keep a healthy balance between work and home life / time / energy?



MENTAL:

  • How do we want to feel as a team? What will help us feel that way? What gets in the way?

  • What do we need from each other to get the best out of each other?

  • How do we share new ideas, diverse views and challenge the status quo?

  • How will we know if someone is stressed, overwhelmed or disagrees?

  • How do we communicate, collaborate and make decisions in a way to makes sure everyone is heard?


This shouldn't be a solo-activity. These should be conversations we have regularly as a team. It's about making sure everyone is on the same page.


Give it a go - see what reflections and insights you gather!

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