(This Leadership Article was originally written October 2008 as the election debates and financial turmoil were heating up and boiling over!) Have you been glued to the t.v. this week, like we have? Watching in dismay as our political ‘Leaders’ position and place blame on each other? Wouldn’t it be awful if you had this type of contention on your team? If you did you couldn’t get your team to agree on where to go to lunch, much less get their buy-in on key decisions and initiatives.
When people don’t trust each other this is what happens – low trust equals slow/no progress. (Think
of airport security, Sarbanes Oxley and in this political situation –
all of these situations represent low trust,
making movement-forward slow and costly.)
Here are four things you can do to improve trust (and therefore speed) on your team:
Sample norms can include:
--Always look up when responding to others ideas by 1) say what you like about the idea and 2) how the idea can be made better
--Soft on people, hard in ideas - be kind to each other
--One speaker at a time
This helps build trust because: it helps each person monitor their own behavior and allows the Team to monitor each other. Team Norms will improve the quality and depth of discussion and serves as a way to build respect and honor of each person in the room.
This helps build trust because:
it improves individual accountability and clarity about what's expected and what eahc person is focused on, in their role. When you have clear and objective performance
expectations for each person, in each position, the work process and flow is more fair and
democratic. This paves the way for less biased and emotional
discussions, and allows for more objective, work-focused meetings. Fair, honest, direct and objective discussions about the work builds trust.
if handled well your Team Survey can help your Team speak honestly about where the Team is, and can help the Team craft a plan to improve the Team. (See this video article- 7 Keys for Successful Opinion Surveys for a "how-to" on doing a Team Survey "right".) Sometimes the Team (and their Leader) need to be reminded that a Team is just like any relationship, if you want it to work it requires attention, focus, communication and dedication. Just the act of having honest discussions about where you are - through the Survey and then, the Team's Debriefing of the Results - will help the Team build more trust.
This helps build trust because: we all get busy, we all get focused on strategy and customer issues and product issues and just life-stuff. If someone on the Team is not consistently helping the Team focus on, and build, their levels of Trust with each others...it will be "forgotten."
And before you know it your Team will be like the Politicians---pointing their fingers, blaming, not making any progress and secretly wondering, "How did we get here?"
And the answer will always be, "Somewhere along the way we stopped caring about trust, honor and respect...we were only worried about being right..." Any time you spend introducing tools and taking action to reduce friction and increase
trust, will improve the strength and ability of your team to perform. Indeed...with trust...all teams can excel and outperform their