BUILDING TRUST: The reality is there is no quality or characteristic that is as rare as trust among teams. Of all the things I have witnessed over the years, all the horrible stories of dysfunctional teams … this is fundamentally what’s missing … trust. Even looking back at the teams I have lead and been a part of … trust has been lacking at times. Without trust, dealing with conflict will be feared, commitment will be lacking, accountability will be avoided and the big picture vision lost.
Defining Trust: Trust is not the ability of team members to predict one another’s behaviours because they’ve known each other a long time. Even dysfunctional teams and families can learn to forecast one another’s words and actions based on observing them over long periods of time. When it comes to teams, trust is all about vulnerability and being real. Team members who trust one another learn how to be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another about there weaknesses, failures and even fears.
One of the main reasons why this kind of trust is so rare is that is just hard to achieve, even when teams understand the definition. Human beings, especially the adult type, have this crazy desire for self-preservation. The idea of putting themselves at risk for the good of others is not natural, and is rarely rewarded in life. So instead we operate in self preservation mode, and although this might be great advice if you’re in prison, on team it’s lethal. The key to all of this, is to teach team members to get comfortable being exposed to one another, unafraid to honestly say things like “I was wrong”, and “I made a mistake” and “I need help” and “I’m not sure” and “you’re better than I am at that” and yes, even “I’m sorry”. If teams cannot bring themselves to readily speak these words when the situation calls for it, they aren’t going to learn to trust one another. Instead, there are going to waste time and energy thinking about what they “should say”, what others are thinking, how they look and what people think of them.
Adapted from “Patrick Lencioni”, The 5 dysfunctions of team.