Kyle BrykmanTeams become more effective and resilient when bosses encourage employees to take risks, make suggestions, and learn from the process, according to a study by business professor Kyle Brykman.

Study: listen to employees to build more resilient teams

Business leaders who encourage their employees to learn on the job and speak up with ideas and suggestions for change have teams that are more effective and resilient in the face of unexpected situations, according to new research from the Odette School of Business and Rice University.

A Resource Model of Team Resilience Capacity and Learning” will appear in a special issue of Group & Organization Management. Authors Kyle Brykman, an assistant professor at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business, and Danielle King, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Rice University, studied what makes employees more resilient and fosters learning in the workplace. The researchers specifically examined the interactions of 48 teams from five Canadian technology startups.

Brykman and King found that teams were more effective and resilient if their bosses encourage employees to take risks, make suggestions, and learn from the process. Creating a work environment centered around learning and open communication is helpful as teams grow and take on new tasks, they write.

“We found that leaders who fostered a supportive voice climate and focused their team goals on learning built more resilient teams,” says Brykman. “Teams are more resilient when they feel encouraged to speak up with ideas and issues, and safe to make mistakes in the pursuit of learning. What’s more, we found that resilient teams also learned more on the job than teams lacking this resilience capacity.”

He says that teams develop greater resilience with practice and patience.

“It’s like a muscle,” Brykman says. “It has never been more important for leaders to foster environments where people feel encouraged to speak up and strive to learn and grow from challenging work.”

Read the entire study in the journal Group & Organization Management.

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