When it comes to relieving team stress and improving morale, connecting with your peers on shared experiences can be a powerful driver of emotional recovery and mental health.
From the famous Rugby Team, the All-Blacks, to your beloved fast-growing startup, the concept of social groups or "tribes" linked by shared purpose and experience, and culture is a common one.
Shared experiences have the power to infuse hope among team members, improve team happiness and reduce some of the risk factors associated with employee Burnout.
If you're stressed about something in life—an upcoming presentation or performance — it may bring you relief to talk about it with someone who has either been there or is going through it.
According to a study led by Sarah Townsend, an assistant professor at USC Marshall School of Business, it is the specific interaction with a person who genuinely understands your emotion and response.
For the study, Townsend and colleagues paired up participants who displayed "emotional similarity" and instructed them to deliver a speech while being videotaped. At the same time, researchers looked at cortisol levels to quantify the participant's stress response.
They found that the simple act of talking with one another within these pairs acted as a buffer from experiencing the high levels of stress typically associated with preparing for a speech.
The results published in Social Psychological and Personality Science stated that finding an emotionally "similar" partner may be vital in keeping calm and carrying on when faced with potentially stressful situations.
Beyond the benefits that arise from processing individual stressors, sharing stories as a group, sharing experiences of stress and discomfort can elicit shared benefits: validation that "the world is hard" and connection around the ways people are "struggling" through the hard stuff together.
That sense of shared resilience against a mutual struggle might explain why sharing experiences has had such success in health care settings: when engaged in sharing experiences, patients with breast cancer, dementia, and chronic illness exhibited reduced social isolation, improved quality of life, and stronger peer-to-peer bonds.
Playbooks such as this Cynfin Company Support Playbook allow an opportunity for our team members to bond over shared experiences and struggles; it gives a freedom of understanding that they are not alone and that their experiences are shared across the entire team.
This simple step of creating togetherness across a team of individuals can profoundly impact collective stress levels and burnout risk.
Who is Cynefin Company? The Cynefin Company is an action research and development hub working at the limits of applied complexity science: where sparks become light, light becomes research and research becomes practice. #makingsenseofcomplexity
We, humans, are "storytelling animals" (MacIntyre 1981), and studies have shown that by interacting with others, "Two stressed people equals less stress" (USC Marshall 2014).
Anecdote Circles is a workshop/group method that creates a safe space for teams to alleviate their stress by sharing their stories.
Anyone can facilitate; people should self-nominate for that. Then, everyone gets a turn, without interruption, while others take notes on the critical points of the story they are listening to.
After that, as a group, look for similar patterns in the stories, and discuss them.
We find you can run anecdote circles with between 4–12 people, with 6–8 being the ideal number. An anecdote circle typically runs for 60–90 minutes or whenever the group runs out of energy.
Ideally, you will run Anecdote Circles every two weeks with your team while in a Support Window.
When it comes to an understanding of when to implement this Cynefin Company Playbook, there is one question you must ask yourself.
In the context of Cynefin Company, they built this Playbook to reduce stress and improve team alignment when Burnout may be starting to become an issue.
In the world of LEON, this Playbook would be considered a Support Playbook.
Read more about Support Playbooks.
Check out the demo below to see how easy it is to find and start a Playbook with your super-powered team!
Use this Playbook, or find an even better Playbook in the Playbook Library that works best for your team.
You can search, start, set due dates, customize and send it to your team right through LEON.
And even better, you can use our weekly check-in feature to understand which teams need help and how best to support them.
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