Human connection. It’s what drives us. In life and in work. So, how can you create a high-performing team by investing in human connection?

Yolanda Beattie, Director of Yo&Co, an organisation dedicated to helping businesses build high-performing, connected teams, shared her insights on this topic at one of our recent events.

“The performance of your team and the teams that make up your organisation, depends on three simple factors: the health and diversity of the team members, the strength and health of their relationships and their ability to adapt over time,” says Yolanda.

Three components of high-performing teams

There are three components that must all work in unison to create more connected teams:

  1. Self-awareness: this is about tuning in to your own mind and body, understanding your personality, what drives you and makes you tick, and how you act around others.
  2. Awareness of others: this is about practicing empathy. Put yourself in other people’s shoes, get to know their behaviour and practice ‘conversational intelligence.’
  3. Adapting over time: it’s important to be able to train your mind to be more aware of yourself and others, and commit yourself to making improvements every day. A good way to do this is through mindfulness.

Regulating our emotional responses

In order for these three parts to work together, we first need to understand how and why people act the way they do, says Yolanda.  As human beings, we are all driven by three types of emotional regulation systems:

  • Threat: this is about the ‘fight or flight’ mode that is activated when we feel our ‘survival’ is being threatened. It may exhibit itself through being defensive, angry and picking fights with others. Often, when we are in this state, we lose a bit of that self-awareness and ability to self-regulate.
  • Drive: this is about our pressure to ‘perform’, to achieve and have success at work (and in life). It’s about the tasks we set ourselves, and the expectations we have of ourselves and others. This part of the self is often connected to our drive, as humans, for money, status and purpose.
  • Connected: this is the non-judgemental state. It’s the state of wanting to be collaborative, work with others, having that perspective and awareness of your surroundings, to be content and happy. It’s that need to connect with others and find common ground.

“When your threat system is triggered, it’s difficult to be adaptive and collaborative,” says Yolanda.

One way to boost your cognitive capacity, so that you do become more self-aware, and aware of others, is through mindfulness. This is the practice of maintaining a moment-by-moment, non-judging awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. The practice of mindfulness is a learned skill. It’s something you need to do consistently and thoughtfully everyday in order for it to be successful.

Where does your team sit?

When it comes to the behaviours of yourself and your team members, where do you sit?

In a dysfunctional team environment, team members will exhibit what’s known as ‘below-the-line’ behaviours. In a cohesive and collaborative environment, they will typically employ ‘above-the-line’ thinking. The key is being able to understand and identify these behaviours.

Below the line behaviours:

  • Addicted to drama as the victim, hero or villain
  • Closed, defensive and threatened
  • Committed to being right

Above the line behaviours:

  • Owns thoughts, feelings and actions
  • Open, curious and trusting
  • Committed to listening and learning

To create more connected teams, the aim is to move people towards above-the-line behaviours. Consider the following:

  • How do you/they (team members) gather information? (sensing or intuition)
  • How do you/they make decisions? (thinking or feeling)
  • How do you/they respond to situations? (introvert or extrovert)

When all these factors combine, it’s a great formula for success.

To learn more on this topic, head to Yolanda’s website:


Want to learn more? Check out the below articles:

3 ways you can build more resilient teams 

How to grow as a finance professional by ‘unlearning’ past mindsets

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