Trust, Teams and Performance

We all participate in teams within some aspect of our jobs or personal lives. We all understand that the function of a team is to accomplish the goal or achieve the results that it sets out to attain. It sounds simple; a little pre-planning, finding the right people with the right skills, defining the goal and letting the rest take care of itself. Why then, in sports, do we so often see that the best teams “on paper” fail to achieve their goal of winning the championship? Why then, in business, do we so often find teams that fail to achieve what they set out to do when they have the right people and resources?

Trust, Teams and PerformanceThe missing ingredients are often trust among team members and trust in team leaders. The failure of teams to trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level means people are afraid to engage in passionate dialogue around issues. When people trust each other they can be completely open and don't hesitate to disagree or challenge others. By doing so, they are able to find better answers, discover different alternatives and solutions, and make better decisions. Yes, teams must have expertise, but if that expertise is unwilling to share or accept differing opinions, then the team’s performance will suffer.

Think about the teams you have been a part of that have not performed as well as you believe they could have. What was missing? In sports, they talk about needing buy in from the players to the coach's system – a failure to get buy in means that the players say they will follow the system, but their performance does not reflect this. Players often do not buy in simply because they have not developed a high enough level of trust in the coach and the system. In the workplace, the same thing holds true.

Trust, Teams and PerformanceAs teams work toward goals, all members decide whether they will participate fully in the process by sharing ideas, offering suggestions, or choosing to remain quiet and only responding when spoken to. This fear of conflict leads to veiled discussion and guarded comments.

It is not difficult to understand that as decisions are made within teams, those who have contributed will work hard to achieve the desired result, while those who failed to participate will not feel accountable to meeting the goal. This lack of accountability stems from a failure to build trust at the time teams are formed. Then, in turn, the lack of trust results in the failure to utilize the collective talent of teams and leads to underperformance.

It doesn't have to be this way. There are simple frameworks for rules of engagement within teams. These rules dramatically improve trust among team members as they help identify different communication styles, personal motivators, conflict styles, and establish a common language for achieving business objectives. Simply stated, if I trust you I will share my thoughts, fears, and ideas, as well as accept your comments and criticisms as part of the exploration process. Once team members are able to move past self interest and self preservation, teams can focus on results.

Wouldn't you like to be part of a team that accomplishes what it sets out to achieve, where the results of the team are put ahead of individual needs, and where team goals are stated, visible, measurable, and met? We all want to be on a winning team, and by working to build trust within your team you can work toward achieving this success.

What have you done to build trust within your team? Let us know in the comments below.

Bill is a senior executive with a broad range of business experience developed over 30 years in complex, diverse, start up and mature businesses ranging from financial, retail, distribution, and manufacturing in both B to B and B to C environments. The one constant throughout Bill's career is change - managing through corporate cultural change, revenue growth and declining business cycles, and ownership changes, all accompanied by personal growth and development.

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Megan Meuli's avatar
    Megan Meuli
    | Permalink
    Bill, this is great! My initial reaction is that trust is often built through conflict which is often avoided and therefore trust is not built...a bit of a vicious circle. Just a thought.

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