True or false? Teams that practice good teamwork contribute to an organization’s success.
Not only “true” but blatantly true.
The fact may be plain and simple, but creating a successful team, leading a successful team, or participating on a successful team is not so plain and simple. The sticky word is “successful.”
Creating a team is easy. Sitting in the leader’s chair can be fairly simple. Team membership may just mean showing up.
But successful? Hold on and wait a second.
This article explores two requirements for team success. For each requirement, we explore specific action items to help you and your team fulfills those requirements.
We start with trust.
Trust: A Successful Team’s Foundation
A team that builds its harmony on trust enjoys the ease and enthusiasm that bring success. In fact, that trust-foundation makes the harmony all the sweeter.
Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, states, “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience…”
Trust and team are almost synonymous. However, you cannot assume that trust develops naturally as part of the team’s personality. Bringing trust–what it means, how it works, and why it matters–to the front of every team member’s mind can be a great step towards team success. A great step that demands your attention.
Here are three underlying benefits your organization–and its customers–will experience once your team works with high levels of trust.
Increased Efficiency — As team members trust that every one will carry out her responsibility, all can attend their specific functions more completely. The decrease in distractions gives an increase to efficiency.
Enhanced Unity — The greater each member of a team trusts other members, the greater strength the team assumes. This unity strengthens the team’s commitment to fulfill its purpose.
Mutual Motivation — When two (or more) people trust one another, each one consciously and subconsciously strives to uphold the others’ trust. That motivation stimulates each team member to seek peak performance.
So, how do you build trust as a fundamental team possession?
Here’s the short answer: build a clear structure and process to promote trust. Team members want to trust one another from the outset. If specific trust-building tools and tactics are missing, however, they will have a hard time building that trust.
Below are three traits that establish a foundation for trust among team members. Notice how each trait focuses on interactions among teammates.
Open Expression — Every member team needs ongoing opportunities to express her thoughts regarding the team’s purpose, process and procedures, performance, and personality. From the team’s get-go, the team leader can initiate every individual’s chance to speak to the team’s actions. A truly effective leader insures that even the quietest member is heard (and so becomes increasingly comfortable speaking up). The more continuously everyone on a team has chances to express openly, the more every one grows used to speaking freely and to being heard. Open expression quickly becomes everyone’s pleasure, and not just the leader’s responsibility.
Information Equity — When it comes to information relevant to the team and the team’s function, the rule must be “all for one and one for all.” Information available to one team member must be available to all members. The secret this trait is in its process. Standardized practices for sharing information equally are simple. A few minutes setting up a team email address and holding a five-minute update each morning are two examples. These can establish everyone-gets-to-know-what-everyone-gets-to-know behavior patterns. Trust level rises when no one fears that she receives less information than others.
Performance Reliability — We trust people we can count on. We count on people who do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. Conscientious work on the first two traits produces results in the third. Open expression and shared information enhance team members’ performance reliability. Open communication can place everyone’s performance cards on the table: strengths and weaknesses, confidence and fears. Equal information allows everyone to know what and how every other team member contributes to success. This knowledge produces shared support, praise, and assistance. What is more team-like than that? When expectations of every team member are up front and open, every team member strives to perform at full force for the good of the team.
TIPS FOR TEAM TRUST
The following five tips support the idea that Open Expression, Information Equity and Performance Reliability grow from how well a team communicates within itself. These tips are for the team leader and every member of the team.
1. Talk the Talk. Take responsibility for role modeling Open Expression. Don’t be afraid to share information about yourself. Encourage others to do the same. Keep at it.
2. Build the Pattern. At team meetings and water-cooler chats, establish the tell-and-ask pattern. Share information about your work and ask questions about your teammate’s work. It takes a bit of repetition to anchor the pattern. It’s worth it.
3. Distribute to Discuss. Make it team belief that one reason for distributing information to everyone is so that it can be discussed. “New data” can be a constant agenda item at meetings. “What do you think?” can be a constant question among team members.
4. Make Good News. Usually people want to complete work rather than fulfill roles. Not much to say about one’s role. Much to share about one’s work. Create opportunities for people to comfortably share good news about the work they perform. (Bulletin boards, email news, lunch discussions, for example.
5. Use a Constructive Question. Have your team adopt a specific question that does two things: directs attention to the team’s purpose and stimulates communication. The question can be an icebreaker at team meetings, a common follow-up to “Hi! How are you?” in the halls, a regular element in team reports. Example questions: What progress have we made? What have we done that makes us proud? What obstacles have we overcome?