Four Ways How Leaders Can Engage Teams and Promote Mental Wellness At Work

by Jun 29, 2022

Have you ever worked at an organization where the leaders were engaging, motivating, and genuinely cared about putting mental wellness first, and how good it felt to work there? Think about how great it would be to feel like you had the confidence to talk to your boss about your needs and what is on your mind.

To instill this confidence, engage your team, and foster mental wellness, try evaluating how you lead with these four focus areas.

Check-In Regularly 

Think about how often you meet with your team members individually. Do you usually get your team together for group meetings? Or do you only meet with individuals when a concern comes up? Do you allocate performance management meetings to have conversations? It’s time to build up relationships with your team members. Team meetings are great, but holding a weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meeting can make all the difference in not only your employee’s performance but wellbeing and overall engagement as well.

For instance, according to Gallup, “On average, only 15% of employees who work for a manager who does not meet with them regularly are engaged; managers who regularly meet with their employees almost tripled that level of engagement.” Not only can frequent one-on-one meetings boost engagement but they can help foster wellness.

Having one-on-one meetings can provide the means to build confidence and the opportunity for employees to share their progress, ask questions and feel safe to share concerns. Some individuals may not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts at team meetings and need the opportunity to speak on a more one-on-one basis.

This can help provide employees with a safety net to be able to voice personal concerns and ask for help and support. It can also give them reassurance that their ideas, overall wellness, and satisfaction matter. Building these relationships helps to strengthen the overall team dynamic. Your leadership and coaching can help employees to become more vocal and able to better express themselves, share their points of view, and present their ideas to the group. Not only that, but it can help you to understand their preferred feedback, learning, and presentation styles. Holding regular team meetings and having one-on-ones will boost engagement and bring the communication loop full circle.    

Pay Attention

As a leader, taking care of all your management responsibilities can make you start to simply check off boxes or rush around. However, it’s important that you slow down and pay careful attention to your team’s morale and behaviors. If you notice your team is becoming less engaged or someone seems to be struggling, take note. Be aware of signs of depression and anxiety, such as loss of focus and irritability. The symptoms can be shown through behavior and performance.

Does an employee seem constantly fatigued, closed in, unmotivated, or overall seems to be down? Don’t wait to have a conversation. Ask your team how they are doing and feeling. Do they feel burned out? Do they need additional team members to handle the workload? For individuals, don’t wait to have a conversation. Use your one-on-ones as opportunities to check in on wellness.

Talk about mental health and encourage your team members to take a break if they are feeling overwhelmed. If you need some conversation starters, here are five questions to ask to help your employees with stress. Be open with your team and do group stress management exercises. Also, don’t hesitate to recommend some resources that may be helpful such as different types of therapy to relieve anxiety.

Take a Look at Your Communication Style

Fostering both team and mental wellness at work have a lot to do with communication. As a leader, how you communicate can either make or break a positive workplace environment and a healthy team dynamic. Do you seem open to hearing your team’s ideas, or do you seem closed off by challenging and questioning their suggested approach to every project? Doing so can cause your team to feel defeated and mentally checked out. Instead, encourage your team to speak up and share their thoughts.

Try debriefing with your team at the end of meetings. Ask questions like: what is your perspective, do you have a different approach, and what are your concerns? It is important to not constantly talk at your team, but rather keep things conversational. This will help your team to get the dialogue flowing and to feel happy to share their ideas, be forthcoming, and feel welcomed.

Lead By Example

Just as you are observing your team’s dynamic and behavior, your team is doing the same by paying attention to how you lead. Your leadership and behaviors set the atmosphere and model what is acceptable and tolerated at work. How you treat others is very important, especially during times of conflict. When faced with a challenge, do you come off as accusatory and jump to conclusions regarding an employee’s performance? If your team sees you lashing out they may begin to treat their colleagues the same.

When this happens, psychological safety goes out the window quickly, and the atmosphere can become toxic. If you don’t earn your employee’s respect, team members may not only disrespect you but disrespect others, and workplace bullying can take root. Instead, lead by example, and embrace emotional intelligence.

Approach situations objectively. Instead of assuming, listen to your employees. Your empathetic approach will help you to solve both problems. This will demonstrate to your team that you are open-minded and willing to listen to their side of the story and that everyone’s mental well-being is being respected. By modeling this behavior and setting the tone, your team will follow suit.

Strive to be the leader that you would want to be led by. By approaching leadership with an empathetic mindset and taking these strategies into consideration, you are sure to have an engaged, healthy, and happy team.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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