Three Ways to Start the Year Strong With Your Team

For many of us, a new year is a chance to start fresh. It’s an opportunity to make a strong start with our teams after the successes and challenges from the previous year. In order to make improvements, leaders must build strong, resilient teams that are inclusive. The data shows diverse and inclusive teams drive better performance at work, stay more engaged and help their organizations exceed financial targets.

Leaning on your teams is essential, but your teams also require focused leadership to keep them on the right track. Your efforts as a leader make all the difference in developing stronger team performance and dynamics, which then grows your team’s resilience. But for your teams to be resilient, they’ll also need to be inclusive. As McKinsey has found, when your team members feel included, they’ll feel psychologically safe enough to bring their best selves to work. In short, resilient teams are inclusive teams.

So if you want to start the year strong, focus on these three must-haves: optimizing team dynamics, fostering inclusion and creating a psychologically safe space for your teams. Doing this can help your team members feel more connected with one another, with everyone working collectively toward your larger organizational goals. Greater efficiency is a natural result of this interconnectedness, with team members working as a unit instead of being isolated in silos.

These steps are crucial for leaders who want to hit the ground running with their teams in the new year.

1. Optimize team dynamics by focusing on shared purpose.

Optimizing team dynamics is essential for creating stronger teams. Team dynamics are the ins and outs of how people work together on a team; they are often based on not only the work that the team needs to accomplish but also on how each member shows up in their unique ways. Team dynamics dictates how the team interacts with one another, as well as how they communicate and cooperate.

When a group has strong, positive team dynamics, they’re likely to achieve more together compared to teams with less positive dynamics. These strong groups communicate well together, respect one another’s work styles, operate with transparency and hold one another accountable. More importantly, groups with great team dynamics are aligned around a shared purpose.

According to the Harvard Business Review, it’s up to leaders to align with their company’s shared purpose, mission and values. Then take this a step further by centering your team’s goals on the company’s mission. Whether it’s focused on creating the best products in your industry or grander ambitions of making the world a better place, inject these values into your team. This ensures that your team has a clear sense of direction, allowing its members to work together toward a single shared purpose.

Working toward a shared purpose acts as the glue binding your team together. When everyone knows what they’re contributing to and why, your team grows stronger and more dedicated to the cause. This is just one step that allows each team member to bring their best selves to work. The next step is all about inclusion and ensuring that everyone feels psychologically safe together, whether they’re remote or in the office.

2. Foster inclusion by creating a psychologically safe space at work.

Businesses and leaders understand the value of inclusion, but they don’t always know how to foster it in the workplace. Inclusion is about far more than checking diversity boxes.

When you include someone, you both recognize and value their unique perspective and what they bring to the table. You solicit their opinions, invite their contributions in collaborative settings and value their input. When employees feel included at work, they’re far more likely to perform at higher levels. But it takes an active, everyday effort at the team level that leads to creating a company culture of inclusivity.

A culture of inclusivity not only helps your existing employees but also helps you attract new talent to grow your teams. According to Gallup, many of today’s employees want to work for an inclusive employer. Employees see that companies often pay lip service to diversity and inclusion, and this simply isn’t enough for them. This means businesses need to strive to create a culture of inclusivity as part of their brand and strategy.

Creating this inclusion relies in part on creating a psychologically safe space at work. When your teams feel psychologically safe, they’re empowered to participate more, be more engaged and take more risks. It’s up to leaders to make sure their teammates feel supported and heard, which then encourages each individual to show up to work as their authentic selves.

3. Boost belonging for your team members to improve team performance.

The secret sauce to resilient, inclusive and high-performing teams is belonging. When employees feel like they belong at your organization, this unlocks their optimal productivity. When people feel like they belong, they’re more confident in what they do and what they bring to the table. Work is less about work and more about doing what they feel is important to them. This is what drives great team performance and improves results for your business.

Optimizing team dynamics, fostering inclusion and creating belonging are three amazing pillars for strengthening your teams. Teams work at their best when they share purpose, when they are heard and supported and when they feel a sense of belonging with one another.

This is when your teams grow into resilience, allowing them to withstand any setbacks or challenges you’ll undoubtedly face in the coming year. Instead of merely reacting to these inevitable challenges, you’ll have a rock star team who can anticipate most struggles and rise to the occasion for your organization time and time again.

Originally posted to the Forbes Human Resources Council blog here.