The eight magic ingredients for a thriving team – Do Good Jobs

posted in: Writing Portfolio

I was on a webinar last week and one of the presenters referred to an organisation or business as a cake and the employees the icing. I disagreed vehemently.

Our people are the cake itself. They bring the components of success.

Thriving teams are the rising agent and the gluten that holds the team together.  Without these key ingredients, it all crumbles.

Anyone can bang together aspirational statements about their work culture, tick a box and fly a ‘positive work culture’ flag. Real cultures are baked over time from heartfelt intention, action, and honesty. They create authentic, ever-changing and creative places to work.

Thriving teams are an essential ingredient in a for-purpose organisation that is looking to reach its mission and you’re the cook.

How we nurture our people and provide the framework for teams to work in, sets the scene for their happiness and optimal output.

When you invest in these eight key ingredients, you can watch your workplace’s productivity go from strength to strength.


So, what is the recipe for a thriving team? 

One definition is a group of two or more passionate and engaged people working at their collaborative and individual best, with clear interfaces where their roles intersect.

If we break it down, the recipe to thriving teams could be communication, space to be agile/reflect, shared goals and purpose, a work-life balance, streamlined systems and processes, support and accountability. Much like any healthy relationship or family.

You can hire the best people, but without the right environment, they won’t work at their best.

How can an employer/leader set the scene?

1. Ensure your team meets enough, but not too much

A short meeting can be a good meeting! I could say more, but you all know what I mean!

2. Have regular check-ins with your employees

What can I do to help you be more productive? What can I do to make your work better? What do you need from us? How’s life?  The do good world is a classic for expecting the value of a full-time job in part-time hours. This backfires into sloppy mistakes, relationships being run over, and burnout. Good time management skills are great but can’t fix this, make sure your people aren’t burning the candle at both ends.

3. Be realistic and clear about expectations and delivery time frames

4. Evaluate and simplify your processes

Start with talking to your staff about what they do and how it could be made easier. The folks on the frontline will have the strongest opinions. Empower them to notice inefficiencies, possible fixes, and where investments could be made in simplifying their work – freeing them up to work on your mission and needle-moving tasks.

5. Nurture a growth mindset

Embrace the fact that making mistakes is part of what makes us human and wrap that into your work culture. Normalise making amends, taking responsibility and learn from mistakes and missteps – then move on. Learn to blame the process, not the people. How could it have been communicated better, what was the outcome you wanted? Identify what can you do so that mistake doesn’t happen again.

6. Hire managers that are good with people

It’s the one thing that’s hard to teach and is imperative for any leader. Or explore a flat organisational structure.

7. Recruit for the right cultural fit

Consider the team the new employee will be working with. Hire your future perfect team then provide the time and budget for upskilling and professional development. Some organisations I know do this by offering book stipends, online course provider memberships, a professional development time budget per role or mentoring within the organisation.

8. Time

It’s needed. Factor in reasonable hours for each role. You don’t want to be  exploiting your employee’s passion and converting it into overwork. Your teams need adequate time to do their work, bond, reflect, support each other and to have enough space to pivot and have the agility to respond to new and exciting opportunities.

People who work in healthy work cultures have the freedom and support to excel in their roles and tend to stay in them longer. Start with one ingredient and incorporate more until you have your thriving team.


Link to the piece on the Do Good Jobs here.


About Anissa Ljanta

Anissa is an online content and comms specialist with a long history in the not-for-profit sector both here in NZ and internationally.   She is on the board of her small local community library, is part of a delightful book club, several writers’ groups, and her idea of a fun Saturday night involves writing and wine. Words, social change and deep ecology are at the centre of her life.

Anissa can be found (and hired for word geekery) at

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