Is happiness in the air? Are your teammates smiling and joking around? Is your team productivity skyrocketing? Congratulations, your team is in a good mood! And the results are there: your team delivers in no time, the job is well-done, they are more creative and thorough… The dream comes true :)

So, what’s next? If you rest on your laurels and hope for the situation to go on forever, you will most certainly be disappointed. Just like when your team is experiencing a bad mood, you must understand the causes for this happy mood in order to keep it going.

Is the situation permanent or temporary?

Have you recently noticed a sudden change of mood or is the situation more or less stable? And if it’s stable, has is always been like that or has the situation evolve over the months/years?

Half a century ago, American researcher and professor of educational psychology Bruce Wayne Tuckman developed a theory of group dynamics, published in his article Developmental sequence in small groups. According to the Tuckman’s theory of group development, every group grows through 4 phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. These phases are necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results. They are usually followed by a fifth phase named “Adjourning”, that involves completing the task and breaking up the team, paving the way for a new exciting project to come.

Tuckman's Stages of Development Source: http://margarethillary.com/team-work/

Considering your happy team, are they currently in a Forming stage? Norming? Performing? Understanding the group dynamic can help you better anticipate the changes and help your teammates be at their utmost performance. Indeed, in each stage, you can use different strategies in order to facilitate the development of high performing teams:

  • Forming: picking the team, discuss the goals, make sure the team develops a shared mental model
  • Forming: act as a resource person to the team, develop mutual trust and calm the work environment by resolving conflicts and tensions
  • Norming & Performing: get feedback from your teammates, allow for the transfer of leadership, set aside time for planning and engaging the team
  • Outperforming & Adjourning: expand initiatives and integrate new members, allow for flexibility in team roles, create future leadership opportunities

What are the (root or simple) causes?

If root causes can be explained by Tuckman’s stages, a good mood can simply be the consequence of a team building activity that was particularly appreciated, a habit to bring in croissants at the end of each sprint, a new wellness program…

As a manager, you can boost wellbeing and happiness at work with theses simple acts:

  • Develop a culture of trust and transparency
  • Show gratitude and value positive intelligence
  • Foster empowerment and accountability
  • Favor breaks and downtime
  • Launch a project that people care about / are proud of
  • Favor friendship and informal times

And more than anything else, don’t forget to take the time to celebrate successes or good news with your team. These moments of commemoration and gratitude are essential to keep your team’s motivation up and pave the way to new challenges.

Of course, you cannot manage everything, some external sources can cause a happy or bad mood, beyond your control. The best thing you can do? Ask your team members.