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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Team Tips - 5 {Trust me!}

We're having a snow day; first of the season.

So it's a good time to tackle this challenge for teams from Jose R.:
"How can you recover trust inside a team that has lost it?"
Trust between team members and between the team and their boss is critical for great teams. In fact it is a deciding factor, we have learned, between great teams and those other groups. When we see individuals on the team trusting each other to uphold their commitments and decisions, then we know the team has moved into that “sweet spot” or the “greatness zone”. This is because the energy freed up from dealing with the emotional drama of lack-of-trust issues can be directly applied to producing a great product on time. It is the difference between team energy being wasted in a downward spiral, and having that energy provide creative ideas, the perfecting and execution of those ideas, and the upward spiral of success.

Additionally, that trust releases everyone from managing each interactive transaction as if there were a high risk of misunderstanding, mistakes, waste, and allows that time and energy to be spent where it is most productive.

We call this model “Trust versus Control”.

This becomes very obvious with a boss that is “micro-managing”. If the boss believes he or she has to be involved in everything the team does, then the team can almost be replaced with machinery. They end up doing each task under close supervision like robots. Alternatively, if the boss has confidence in the team's ability to perform the basic tasks, that can be extended to the team determining their own workflow, quality, deadlines, etc. In the ideal case, for example after attending a Great Teams BootCamp*, the team is proficient in managing their own affairs. All the boss need do then is accept the team's status reports, confirm to his or her satisfaction that the product is on time and will be great, and... take the rest of the day off.

Whenever that level of trust is lost then we are back to the more common case of groups in organizations everywhere.

So to Jose's question: What can we do to build or recover trust?

What we have observed over 15 years in the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Team Immersion* – a.k.a. BootCamp – is that the adoption of the Rules – the Core Commitments – and the use of the Tools - the Core Protocols – is a great starting point. These provide a foundation for the desired end result which is a persistent track record between team members, and between the team and the boss, of successful personal interactions. That is: commitments kept, ideas shared, support provided, results delivered, etc., all of which indicate that trust has been earned, like deposits in a bank account.

A significant starting point is the team agreeing on a shared vision. The ideal method to get to this state is the development of personal goals, or wants, by each individual on the team that each team member agrees to support. The sharing of these personal alignments leads to a state of shared vision – people in alignment with each other – and enables the development of a shared vision statement. What we have experienced is that individuals in a state of shared vision have the basis of trust between themselves which can then be amplified across everything they do.

By individuals keeping their Core Commitments, supporting each other's Personal Alignments, and going further to engage each other regularly by Asking for Help, Investigating, sharing and Perfecting ideas, etc., the team members keep making trust deposits. The nature of these deposits is: I can be counted on to act responsibly as an adult, to avoid emotional drama, to meet my promises, to engage with others in every question of product delivery and quality.

If trust needs to be recaptured, these same tools are effective. Particularly Ask for Help.

Individuals following the Core Commitments can be depended upon for adult, engaged behaviour. Asking these individuals for help, on any question, develops a relationship with him or her based on respect and inclusion. This exercise supersedes just getting information. This is an act of connection which starts to rebuild trust. Keeping promises, being open to diversity of ideas, including others in gathering information, sharing ideas are all positive influences for regaining trust.

And based on our experiences with great teams you can trust me on that. :)

Click here for your own copy of the Core Protocols – the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams.

To add your team challenges to the list add a comment below or message me @ReevesResults on Twitter.

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