One element critical for team success

posted in: All, Change, Company culture, Trust | 1

If asked to name one element critical for team and organizational success across all industries and environments, what would you say?  Perhaps vision? Shared values?  Purpose?  Or possibly skills, and ensuring the people with the right skills are in the roles that make best use of their strengths. Maybe you’d say strategic thinking or an effective business plan.  Maybe camaraderie, cohesiveness, or focus on results.

All of these things are important, it’s true.  And still there is one critical element that everything else builds upon. Trust.  Trust creates the foundation for successful teams, and when trust is absent, the team struggles to move forward. trust fall

Why trust matters

Patrick Lencioni demonstrates this principle In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by looking at what happens when there is an absence of trust on a team, or in an organization.  When trust is missing, team members are more likely to withhold information, keeping their opinions to themselves.  They may not feel safe expressing themselves.  They may cover up mistakes, or fail to report potential problems. They may agree to a decision because it’s the easiest path, not because they believe it’s the right course. This leads to lack of commitment, accountability, and ultimately poor focus on results.

Trust – or the lack of trust – has direct financial implications for organizations.  Stephen M.R. Covey shows how trust impacts cost and speed in The Speed of Trust.  Lack of trust results in increased costs and decreased speed.  You can probably think of examples from your own experiences. What happens when people don’t trust each other?  Information isn’t shared, problems are not surfaced, excessive review and approval systems need to be navigated before people can act.  Bureaucracy and red tape, and work that needs to be redone because decisions have  been made based on incomplete or even incorrect data.

Absence of trust is demotivating.  According to Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s Self Determination Theory, one of the pillars of intrinsic motivation is autonomy. We work so much more effectively when self-motivated rather than externally motivated.  Allowing autonomy requires trust – trust that people will do what needs to be done, with high quality and on time.  Micro-managing sends the opposite message, that people are not trusted.

It takes a lot to achieve peak performance on a team: Mission, vision, values, planning, strengths-focus, open communication, healthy conflict, collaboration, commitment. But without trust there is no foundation and performance will crumble.

How can you build a foundation of trust?

So how do you build trust within the team?  A good way to start is to be intentional about creating an environment where people feel safe sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions, without negative repercussions.  Find ways for team members to get to know each other and develop interpersonal bonds.  Create purposeful experiences for team members to help them build relationships and trust. Many of you have heard about or experienced activities such as the “trust fall.”  (You’re not rolling your eyes, are you?)  These trust-building activities take us outside our comfort zones.  Which makes us, well, uncomfortable!  That discomfort is powerful, though, in promoting growth and change.  As we begin to trust another person for our physical well-being, we also begin to trust them when it comes to our emotional or psychological well-being.

When there is a foundation of trust in an organization with a compelling vision, clearly-understood purpose, and shared values – a team performing at its peak can accomplish anything.  It can move mountains!

Crucial Conversations

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Trust | 0

crucial conversationsWhat happens when a “normal” conversation suddenly takes a turn and becomes something much more? How can you become more aware so you can successfully navigate those more difficult conversations? What can you do to keep a crucial conversation on track and solution-focused?

In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, you’ll learn how to recognize when someone feels unsafe in a conversation, and also what you can do about it. You’ll learn strategies to continue a dialogue toward a successful outcome, even when emotions begin to run high.The authors use examples that are easy to connect with, and demonstrate how different types of responses can influence outcomes when conversations turn crucial.

 

To Purchase

 

Developing Strong Virtual Teams

How do you develop a sense of team when members are spread out geographically?  For many groups the opportunities to get  together in the same physical location are rare. But do you have to

Developing virtual teamsaccept having a disconnected team, just because everyone doesn’t come to work in the same location every day?  People often tell me how difficult it is to build relationships in that kind of situation.  I’ve experienced it myself, and I agree – it can be difficult.  But fortunately it’s not impossible.  I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be part of a strong virtual team, where no goal seemed out of reach. What made the difference?  Just like any relationship, intentional effort needs to be made to create and maintain bonds among team members.

If your virtual team is not performing as well as you’d like or you think that the interpersonal bonds between members could be stronger, consider these questions:  Do you find that when your group does get together for a meeting, much of the time is spent on activities like reviewing reports and scheduling future meetings?  Are these things that really need to be done in a face-to-face setting?  Would a conference call work for some things like these instead?  Are all team members valued for the unique qualities and strengths they bring to the team?

Here are four ways you can build a stronger team.  These apply regardless of your work setting, and are especially applicable in a virtual environment:

1. Make the most of the times you are physically together in the same location to foster trusting relationships among team members.

2.  Incorporate focused and purposeful team development activities into your event to accelerate the group-formation process.

3.  Carefully consider the content of your face-to-face meetings.  What can team members do independently ahead of time? Are there reports that can be read, scheduling that can be planned, or questions that can be shared with the group ahead of time?  If so, then the face-to-face meeting time can be devoted to those areas that address more sensitive topics, or require more in-depth discussion or brainstorming.

4. Create an inclusive environment.  Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and be heard.  Allowing everyone to be involved not only helps the team achieve its goals by leveraging each person’s strengths, it also demonstrates that each member is a valued part of the team.

What would you add to this list?  What has worked for you?

The Speed of Trust

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Engagement, Trust | 0

Speed of TrustTrust - intuitively, we know it's important.  We'd rather live and work in a trusting environment than one of fear, suspicion, and distrust.  We have a sense that things seem to go more smoothly when we trust those around us and they trust us.  But why is that?

Using real-world examples and personal experiences, Stephen M. R. Covey shows the direct correlation between trust, cost, and speed in The Speed of Trust.  When trust is low, it takes longer to get things done and at a higher cost. Increase trust and tasks are completed more quickly with less cost.  In his book, Covey shares practical methods for increasing trust in your personal and professional relationships.

If you're looking for more insight into how to make a difference personally and in your organization by creating higher levels of trust, check this out!

To purchase

What’s the big deal about Engagement??

posted in: All, Engagement, Trust | 0

What is the big deal about engagement?  It seems everyone is talking about it.  It’s at the heart of nearly every conversation about productivity – and for good reason.  Companies spend a considerable amount of money surveying their employees each year to determine how engaged those employees are.  Why? Because studies show, again and again, that the level of employee engagement impacts the bottom line, and significantly (Harter, Schmidt, Agrawal, & Plowman, 2013; MacLeod & Clarke, 2009).

Studies such as the Gallup Q12 Meta-Analysis and the MacLeod Reemployee engagementport show correlations between employee engagement and outcomes in areas of:

  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Goal achievement
  • Safety
  • Turnover
  • Employee productivity
  • Improved working lives of employees

The Gallup Q12 showed that businesses measuring the highest levels of engagement show an 80% probability of achieving above-average performance results. In contrast, the cost of disengagement for US companies is estimated at over $300 billion annually. So, clearly engagement matters. But how does an organization go about creating an engaged workforce?   Research has shown that two of the things that influence engagement are whether there is an environment of trust and whether group members are able to function together effectively.

In order to be willing to take risks and invest energy in support of the organization’s goals, people need to be able to trust that their actions won’t be perceived negatively (Schneider, Macey, Barbera, & Young, 2010). When we feel psychologically safe, we are more likely to share our opinions, ideas, or concerns. A trusting, psychologically safe, environment encourages the open exchange of ideas and information and allows problems to surface before they become severe. When we are concerned with being judged it’s easy to become distracted and disengaged as we may be focusing more on what others are thinking than on the task at hand (Kahn, 1990).

Groups that function effectively typically have strong interpersonal bonds. Often these groups are characterized as cohesive. Tuckman’s (1965) model describes the process of a team’s development of connectedness and functionality over time, ranging from the initial stages of group formation to later stages where groups exhibit cohesion and are successful at achieving group goals. At Tuckman’s final stage of performing, interpersonal relationships are a key to successful problem-solving and goal achievement. In my own research, I found that when team members know each others’ strengths and interests, and then aligned tasks accordingly, they were more successful at achieving their goals.

What does engagement look like in your workplace? Do you see these factors at work?  Is forming personal relationships with members of the workgroup encouraged or discouraged?  Is the environment psychologically safe?  How do you think the level of engagement could be improved in your organization? Are there things that you’ve tried or have been thinking about trying? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, please join me in the coming weeks to explore more ideas about what it takes for individuals and groups to perform at their best. I’ll also be sharing selections from my bookshelf each Thursday.

 

References:

Gallup Q12. (2013). https://q12.gallup.com/

Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., Agrawal, S., & Plowman, S. K. (2013). The relationship between engagement at work and organizational outcomes (2012 Q12). Retrieved from Gallup website: www.gallup.com

Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 692-724. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/256287

MacLeod, D., & Clarke, N. (2009). Engaging for success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement. Retrieved from Department for business innovation & skills: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file52215.pdf

Schneider, B., Macey, W. H., Barbera, K. M., & Young, S. A. (2010). The role of trust in understanding employee engagement. In S. L. Albrecht (Ed.), Handbook of employee engagement: Perspectives, issues, research and practice (pp. 159-173). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological bulletin, 63, 384-399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0022100