Join us on a TeamX™ Adventure – Newsletter June 2023
Why is trust needed in a team?
There has been much research on this topic and a good place to start is by looking at the Google re:Work report. Google wanted to know “What makes a team effective?”
They set out to answer this question by investigating 250 variables across 180 groups in engineering and sales. According to their research project, originally code-named Project Aristotle, the top dynamic of an effective team is psychological safety.
The term ‘psychological safety’ was introduced by Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. If you are interested to learn more about this topic, watch Amy’s popular TEDx talk: Building a psychologically safe workplace
The Google re:Work report noted that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are:
- less likely to leave
- more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates
- bring in more revenue
- rated as effective twice as often by executives
The results showed that what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together.
In brief the results showed the top attributes, in order of importance, as:
- Psychological safety
- Structure and clarity
Get the foundations in place
As a people leader, you can not underestimate the importance of psychological safety within your team and workplace. It is the foundation block of any effective team and with a conscious focus, you can help each other to build the bonds that create trust.
Recognising that the workplace needs to be a place of ‘psychological safety’ founded on deep vulnerability-based trust, team members are much more likely to say what they really think, ask for help, and feel safe that mistakes are treated as lessons.
To know that you are safe to make mistakes affords the organisation the ability to grow and develop at a faster rate.
A Tech Leader Survey conducted by Amplified Group showed 72% of tech organisation leaders believe that failures and mistakes are treated as lessons. This suggests that in the main, tech organisations are creating safe and trusting environments. This is encouraging to see!
There is a great story about Alan Mulally, former CEO at Ford. With no experience in the car industry, and joining during a tough financial period for Ford, it was seen as an ambitious move.
“I arrived in September ’06 and the first profit forecast I saw was for a loss of $17bn” Alan says (Source: BBC News)
You can’t manage a secret
Starting out, Alan wanted honesty from his executive team around performance. There was an existing Business Plan Review (BPR) mechanism in place with a traffic light system. Not one person felt they could share a BPR with anything but green in it. This continued for several months until one person was brave enough to announce a red. At last! Alan Mulally was delighted someone was able to speak up. This was the turning point. Alan’s favourite saying with his leadership team was, “You can’t manage a secret.”
From his approach, Ford introduced a management tool called the 24-Hour Rule. (Source: Harvard Business Review) The rule says: ‘You have 24 hours to take a new and emerging issue, try to understand it and see if you can resolve it yourself. After that, you have to go public with it.’ By introducing an escalation process, they were able to solve issues relatively quickly by pulling together the right people.
When a team trusts each other, you will see the effects of this by the way team members engage. They are able to hold robust debate where everyone, even the quieter voices, have input into the plan. When everyone has a voice, they are more likely to commit to decisions.
“When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer.”
– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage
So why does all this matter?
If you are a sales leader and trust levels change, the team experience will suffer which has a direct effect on the customer experience.
As we heard from Alan Barber, former VP WW Customer Success at VMware, on the Get Amplified episode ‘Why Team Experience is vital for success’,
“The customer experience is only as good as the team experience”
How do you get started?
In our conversation with Tony Roberts, Customer Success Leader at Okta, he explained that by ensuring time is put aside for people to get to know each other, they are naturally able to build connections and trust. When someone is on holiday, another team member steps up to help without being asked. The support they show one another creates a team of mentors. How rewarding to see your team flourish!
Exercises to put into practice
We would like to offer you some kick-start activities to use in your team meetings that will help everyone to get to know each other and strengthen relationships.
1 – Get to know each other
In this hybrid world, taking time to build bonds can be difficult but it is vital to carve out time to support this. We have two quick exercises that will help team members get to know each other and will help build the foundation of trust.
Exercise 1 – Identify things in common in 7 minutes
Exercise 2 – Working with Me Profiler
Get the exercises: Step 1 – Get to Know Each Other
When going into meetings with colleagues, it is just as important to prepare for the people you are meeting with, as it is for the meeting itself.
2 – Understand Different Personality Types
This exercise introduces you to a practice that provides a memorable way to understand not only your own personality traits but those of your team. It will highlight how you can adapt and work together to the best of your abilities.
Get the exercise: Step 2 – Personality Types
3 – Engage in Positive Conflict
Conflict is often considered taboo, especially at work, and people may spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to avoid the kind of passionate debates that are essential to any great team.
When you have a foundation of trust, teams who engage in productive conflict (or robust debate) know that the only purpose is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time.
Get the exercise: Step 3 – Engaging in positive conflict
As Patrick Lencioni says,
“The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage”
Trust is only one element of building a strong and resilient team. Next month we will be looking at clarity.
We hope you found this useful. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
See you next month!