At the foundation of every high-performing team is Team Trust. Not one-on-one trust (well, you need that too), but TEAM trust. This is where team members are comfortable and feel safe to say what they are thinking no matter what situation they are facing and regardless of who is in the room. We all know the feeling of discomfort of being on a team without Team Trust. You are in a conversation or meeting and feel the overwhelming need to speak up and share information, but the fear of vulnerability and judgement bites your tongue. You do not feel the support of a trusting team to provide a safe environment for you to present your opinion and feedback. The catch 22 is that in these situations, you also know how imperative it is that you do speak up. It’s gut-wrenching!
In order to progress forward towards any goal, we need to state the BRUTAL FACTS, from the start! [Read my last blog for more on what the BRUTAL FACTS are] Unfortunately, most teams don’t share or say the BRUTAL FACTS. They usually say nothing or say it after the meeting to someone else one-on-one and instead just say what they think people want to hear.
We all need to say the BRUTAL FACTS - nicely, directly and respectfully. So how do you ensure the team is comfortable sharing the BRUTAL FACTS with each other? This is a question that gets asked all the time. All the teams I work with understand this concept, but what everyone is seeking to know is how to implement. “How do we get Team Trust?... And keep it?!"
Team Trust is built from the CEO out to the leaders, and then out to the team. It’s also a never-ending effort, and that is what puts most leaders off. When building our teams at my companies, we called this never-ending effort our “Cohesive System”. A leader must be disciplined, focused and aware (every day) of every team interaction and how it is fostering an environment of Team Trust. The leader must be a consistent example of facing, raising and discussing the BRUTAL FACTS. If this is not the case, Team Trust can be lost as quickly as it was formed. Team Trust, or “Team Cohesiveness”, is the #1 thing a CEO must own for their company and what their leaders must own with their teams. It all starts with the CEO first, showing the success, being the example, creating a cohesive leadership team founded on Team Trust. A CEO must then coach and grow their leaders in this area with their teams.
Individual awareness and team awareness is critical to achieve Team Trust, “Team Cohesiveness”, in place. Here are recommended steps to get started:
- Read the Speed of Trust., by Stephen M.R. Covey This is a great book for both professional and personal awareness. I have read this book multiple time as have my clients. This is good for awareness. There is a great assessment to get started.
- Read Conversational Intelligence, by Judith E. Glaser. This is one of the best books I have read to ensure when we share the BRUTAL FACTS in away it will be heard and will make an impact.
- Read the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. CEO and Leadership Team, have this topic as a discussion at your next meeting. Do the team assessment to get the baseline of where the team is today. And continue this assessment at least once a year.
- Going forward start each weekly, monthly or quarterly meeting off working through the 5 levels of the 5 Dysfunctions as laid out in the 5 Dysfunctions Field Guide , to start to build Team. Doing this will drive healthy conflict and allow for discussions about the Brutal Facts.
The above steps are just a warm up to get your team thinking and will get you off to a great start. The most interesting thing of all these reads is that the awareness will be beneficial, both personally and professionally. I have played on a lot of sport teams, at all skill levels. When I look back at our success on those teams, it was always founded upon the coach taking the time to train the team on AND off the field. We did as much training on the field cohesively and as we did off the field cohesively. These are the teams that had the most success.
As leaders, let’s make sure we are focused on Team Trust (“Team Cohesion”), by sharing the BRUTAL FACTS to ensure we achieve and exceed our plans for successful team results.
Do you have any experiences with ways to build and foster trust on your teams? Share!
-Shannon Byrne Susko
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