An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The benefits of encouraging contribution among team members

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Elise Redziniak, First Sergeant, AF Life Cycle Management Center

Did you know that the average person works 90,000 hours throughout their lifetime? This is a considerable amount of time spent at work and with your co-workers. The kind of environment you are exposed to can set the tone for how you mentally, physically and emotionally feel, overall influencing the psychological wellbeing of the workplace and its employees. A healthy work environment is created when people feel valued in their talents and are included as team members. Conversely, a negative work place has a sense of unhealthy competition, low morale, pessimism, bullying, gossiping and a lack of trust between peers and leadership.

Employees feel accomplished when their team is recognized for hard work and success in a project. A diverse group of people comprise a team so it is imperative to take note of each person’s contribution that aided to the team’s success. When unique qualities are highlighted to an individual, they are more prone to feel needed and that they are pivotal to the success of the team. These principles are highlighted in the diversity and inclusion program.

A safe work place is also thought of as a psychological safe space, which is defined as the belief that employees will not feel punished or humiliated for communicating their ideas, asking questions, or making mistakes.  People will be comfortable being their authentic selves while at work. There are various strategies that can be used to create an environment where everyone feels like their contributions are value added. Create an environment of open communication and allow all parties the opportunity to speak. One way to do this is by having a small number of people in meetings. As a facilitator, it’s important to keep meetings on track to allow time for everyone to contribute. Sometimes the quietest people in the room have the best ideas so it is advantageous to create an environment where each member can be heard.

Another way to create an environment where members feel their contributions are valued is by being transparent in communication and setting reasonable expectations and sticking to them.  Trust must be earned and kept and there are ways to maintain it by allowing people the opportunity to provide input while being respectful toward varying opinions and thoughts. 

In addition to psychological safety in the workplace and transparent communication, a leader can continue to create a work center to value contributions by celebrating individual strengths. This can be done by encouraging people to be their “full selves” at work. Creating time for people to share their personal stories, family and hobbies can help them bond and build trust in their team. Also, giving kudos for individual talents can be done by spotting the strength, explain what you saw, and describe why you appreciate those specific traits of the person. People are 29 times more likely to thrive who feel appreciated than those who feel unappreciated. The various ways to provide feedback to an employee including giving public accolades, private feedback as well as sending emails or posting on social media.   

To create an environment where people feel their contributions are valued, encourage full authentic selves by establishing psychological safety, create a welcoming environment, give people independence in their job, recognize mistakes as learning opportunities and create a supportive culture in the work place. Be reasonable with your expectations, communicate it, and stick to them. Lastly, celebrate individual strengths by recognizing outstanding work and highlight the contributions that made the team successful.

The AFMC Connect article on Contribute advises each team to share a personal strength and how it contributes to making a successful work environment. This will allow each person to feel valued by their team members for the qualities they bring to the mission. Think of how you can create an environment that celebrates and supports everyone’s contributions.