"Wear a Mona Lisa smile," and other practical ways to build a stronger, more resilient work team

WINNIPEG, Oct. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - Monday, October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, offers some practical and engaging steps leaders can take to build a stronger, more resilient work team.

"As leaders, we are only as strong as the teams we build, and sustaining an effective team is an ongoing effort," Baynton explains. "The intention of these activities is to help build team resilience over time. They may seem like they are just fun things to do, but they were developed by experts in the areas of trauma, resilience and emotional intelligence."

The following activities can help improve team effectiveness, increase self-awareness, and foster civility and respect:


Volunteer together: Foster team civility and respect by having the group choose a project that everyone can take part in: volunteering at a soup kitchen, holding a fundraising event, sponsoring a child, etc. Once the event is completed, ask the team to share what they got out of the experience.


Play "musical chairs": Help your team increase self-awareness of how they might react to change. Call a team meeting, and once everyone has taken their seats, ask team members to get up and change chairs. Don't give any explanations, but ensure that everyone actually moves. Once everyone is re-seated, explain the purpose of the exercise and ask for volunteers to share what they felt or experienced when being asked to "change" without adequate information about why.


Wear a Mona Lisa smile: This activity reminds team members that reducing tension in the face and body can reduce the intensity of negative emotions and help lift your mood. It sounds too simple to be true, but it works!

Ask team members to make angry faces for one minute, while thinking about a situation that made them angry. Ask them to pay attention to their physical reactions. Then, ask them to physically relax their faces and body and turn their mouth into a gentle half smile, like the Mona Lisa. Once they have fully relaxed, ask them to think of the same situation and notice if there is any (even if slight) reduction in the intensity of their emotional reaction. Invite discussion and reflection.

Many more tips, activities and strategies are available in the book, Building Stronger Teams: Supporting effective team leaders, to be released by the Centre at the upcoming The Better Workplace Conference in Vancouver. The practical information can help increase the emotional intelligence of leaders and improve the resilience of teams.

Effective Oct. 25, an e-version of the workbook will be available in English and French, at no charge, on the Centre's website at WorkplaceStrategiesforMentalHealth.com along with all of the Centre's free resources and information. Contact Us and we'll notify you when this book is ready for free download.

Continue the discussion on the Centre's brand new social media spaces: TwitterLinkedInInstagram and YouTube.

About the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace:

Established in 2007, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace (the Centre) is a leading source of practical ideas, tools and resources designed to help with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues.

In 2017, the Centre will celebrate 10 years of helping employers take concrete steps to foster a psychologically healthy and safe workplace and manage employee mental health issues. The Centre will kick off its anniversary year with a look back at the advances Canada has made over the last decade.

Around the world, C­anada is recognized as an international leader in workplace mental health. Many individuals and organizations have contributed to this distinction and it has been a privilege for the Centre to have played a part in many of their important initiatives. Several key research projects and events are in store for 2017 to commemorate our collective progress.

For more information, visit the Centre's website at WorkplaceStrategiesforMentalHealth.com

Find the Centre on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and YouTube.

SOURCE The Great-West Life Assurance Company

Image with caption: "A leader's guide and activities for developing resilience for you and your team. (CNW Group/The Great-West Life Assurance Company)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161007_C2544_PHOTO_EN_790492.jpg

For further information: Tim Oracheski, Director, Media & PR, 204.946.8961

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890