Attaining remarkable teamwork is impossible without high levels of trust. When we start talking about trust, it sounds something like motherhood because it has been used to so often in the recent decades that it has lost all its meaning.
When we talk about trust in the context of the workplace — it means that team members place enough confidence in each other that they can talk, call out and carry constructive conflicts without being protective.
Teams trust each other when they know the members are aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings, but they will never use these against them in arguments or debates. Trust happens when team members are comfortable exposing their weakness and shortcoming with others.
If a team member makes fun of other member’s vulnerabilities, then the later will spend time staying protective and careful and will not open up. This also gives birth to politics and dishonest conversations.
Building Trust Between Teammates
Before we move further, one thing we need to understand is that high levels of trust are impossible to achieve in a few days. It is about creating an environment of empathy, trust and care. And, this is something which can never happen overnight.
Patrick Lencioni shares the following tools to build trust in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
● Gather all your team members for a meeting and ask them to share their personal history including school, siblings, childhood, hometowns, challenges they faced growing up, worst manager, worst job, best job and more. This exercise will pave the way for building trust as it encourages empathy.
● Ask all your team members to write down one greatest strength of a team member or a significant contribution they remember done by the team member. Also, they should write one weakness of each team member which they think should be eliminated or improved.
These exercises are great for building trust in the short-term.
However, as a leader, you must nurture an environment of trust and empathy within your organization to build high levels of trust.
Constructive conflicts are directly related to trust. If team members don’t trust each other, they will never have constructive conflicts due to the fear of upsetting others. Many leaders take this artificial harmony of having no conflicts in the team, as a sign of high trust levels. What they don’t understand is that when team members are comfortable with each other and trust each other, they are not afraid of calling each other out or giving constructive feedback.
No relationship, whether it is personal or professional, can grow without constructive conflicts. Conflict is something which is considered harmful, especially in organizations. And most employees try to avoid debates. They think they will upset the other person.
Constructive conflicts and debates not only give birth to new ideas, but they also increase the levels of trust between team members. As a leader, you should be able to identify the difference between constructive conflicts and political discussions or debates. In the workplace, constructive conflicts are about ideas and concepts, not about personal things.
Overcoming fear of conflict
The first thing you need to do is tell your team that constructive conflicts are goods and productive so they should not avoid it. If your team members are afraid of having conflicts or they think it is unnecessary, they will do everything to avoid it.
Here’s what you can do to overcome the fear of conflict
● Assume the role of a conflict miner. Try to find ways to create constructive conflict in meetings. When conflicts occur, don’t let any team members back off. Some team members are submissive and don’t like to engage in conflicts. So, it would be best if you encouraged them to continue the conflict until it resolves.
Teams, who have high levels of trust and are not afraid of conflicts — are powerful and perform better. Here is why:
● They become self-aware as they don’t hesitate to share their weaknesses and shortcoming with their peers.
● They take constructive criticism positively, and chances of improving are high.
● It cultivates the growth mindset in the team.
● They don’t jump to conclusions before making any decision.
● Tap into one another experiences
● Since there is no politics, team members can use their energy on important things.
● They can apologize to each other.
As a leader, you should identify whether your team lacks trust or not. If it does, then you should take actions to develop trust. You can also hire a strategic talent advisory firm to help you build a powerful team.