Have you ever been part of a meeting where everyone comes out feeling good about the way forward? If you haven’t, we don’t blame you. From pitch presentations to negotiations, boardrooms across the world are famous for the pace, or lack of it, within those spaces. But, if you pause to think about it, do people get into meetings with the specific intent of being unproductive? No! Yet...
And yet, that’s what happens when different people have different expectations from a given professional situation. The same goes for team projects as well. Even if you brief the entire team in the same room at the same time, what each person takes away is likely to be radically different from the person seated next to them.
Lost in translation is literally the case, and if you think that’s the only issue, the ramifications of poor communication run far and wide. For one, because different people ‘see’ different things in the same context, they do not trust each other or themselves to be able to process a situation accurately. Every time there’s room for conflict, people are likely to want to find fault with the teammate who ‘didn’t understand what was specified.’
As Leo Tolstoy once said, and we modified for relevance, “Happy teams are all alike; every unhappy team is unhappy in its own way” and it is safe to say that trust issues have a huge role to play in eroding even those teams that start out being exceptionally good and efficient.
The Case For Trust As The Foundation Of Great Teams
When you trust someone, you rely on them to successfully accomplish something for you. In a personal relationship, this may be anything from the need for company to protecting your deepest secrets. Interestingly, it isn’t so different in a professional setting either. We’ve heard enough and more about not displaying weakness particularly at the workplace, but what is a great team if not shared competencies and vulnerabilities?
A great team understands that no individual is perfect and yet, they bring the best of themselves to the table. A poor team, on the other hand, uses these weaknesses as excuses to perform poorly. When in doubt, always be a wingman.
Research also shows that without trust, there is far less scope for creativity and innovation to flourish. Ask any good advertising agency how many copies of an ad they had to write before they got the right one, and the answer is reflective of how many iterations even a seemingly good idea needs to go through before taking off. Where team members don’t trust each other, they open up far lesser, propose fewer ideas for fear of being deemed stupid, ask less questions and generally prefer to do their job while ruffling as few feathers as possible.
But in a team that trusts, each stakeholder is willing, eager even, to open up and share their concerns as freely as they share their ideas.
How do you build trust in a team? Here are a few ways.
Ways To Build Trust In A Team
As a leader or a manager, the onus is on you to move away from pure-play execution and into a position of influence. Here are some ways by which you can build trust within your team or organisation.
1. Start By Demonstrating Trust:
One commonly overused tactic in conversations at the workplace is pitting two parties with different interests but the same objective against each other. It is tempting to take one side over another and communicate accordingly. As a good first step, managers need to drop that approach.
2. Communicate Freely, And Meet When Required:
Not all teams work out of the same location today, which means that not everyone can meet often. Indeed, unless there is a specific agenda in mind, we recommend not meeting at all! However, in order to make up for the lack of face time, set the precedent of emailing clearly with goals and objectives, messaging concisely and keeping your phone calls to the point.
3. Get Out!
Of the workplace, that is. Of all the team building exercises that work, a team lunch is the most potent one. Who doesn’t love food? Even otherwise, it is worthwhile to get to know team interests and step out for a movie or after-work activities on a designated day every week.
4. Share The Blame
No one in a team fails independently. Hard as it might be to believe that, it is one hundred percent true. The failure may be apparent on one end, but it has happened due to everyone, including probably yourself. Use failures as a way to evaluate what went wrong as opposed to making them a witch hunt.
5. Put Them In Front Of The Client:
There’s nothing that bonds people as well as facing a common opportunity. Client roles are often limited to sales and account management, but everyone from operations to R&D can benefit from meeting and interacting with the client. This also helps them see things from each other’s perspective.
6. Get Trained:
Not all of us are born building teams, and very few of us have the skills to navigate teams at a workplace. There is nothing wrong with that! Instead, successful team building skills are a way for managers to rise further up in the organisation, and skills like these are proof that you are ready to move from being a doer to a thinker. Team building workshops can help immensely since they come with a trained facilitator who is also a neutral third party.
What do you think is the biggest issue with a team you know? What role does trust play in it? Tell us in the comments.