Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Trust

This will be part of a 5-part series about the five common dysfunctions of a team to create more awareness on common issues and explore potential solutions. In case you’re not familiar with the framework, this book was written by Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group (a firm that has been helping leaders improve their organizational health since 1997). This framework has stood the test of time and highlights important learnings for leaders in the workplace now more than ever.

It All Starts With Trust.

It’s no accident that Trust is at the foundation of the pyramid. Good teamwork is not possible without trust. In theory, trust sounds very simple but for some reason it’s also highly inconsistent across teams. It turns out, trust isn’t possible without a healthy dose of vulnerability. In the increasingly de-humanized workplace, vulnerability can be challenging and it’s worth acknowledging this reality.

What is trust? The definition that Lencioni provides is that trust means team members can be vulnerable with each other.

What trust looks like and feels like at work… I loved this framework of the 3 directions of trust that must exist: The team must trust the leader, the leader must trust the team, and members of the team must trust each other.

  • Team members at every level can reveal their shortcomings and weaknesses without shame
  • Team members at every level feel like it’s safe to make mistakes
  • Team members at every level can ask for help and get support in return
  • Team members at every level can speak up without fear of retaliation
  • Team members at every level feel like they have each other’s back

If that does not sound like your work environment, you might have a trust problem on your team. It’s hard to admit that there is low trust, but if you don’t address it you won’t have the foundation to build a lasting team. Trust can be hard to build and really easy to destroy. And that’s what makes trust really hard.

Ways to build more trust (Hint – it has more to do about how you’re Being versus what you’re Doing):

  • Be a decent human. Are you someone who people feel comfortable opening up to without fear of judgement? Do you keep conversations confidential if requested? The key here is to be vulnerable, be empathetic, and be trustworthy with the information you are given in confidence.
  • Be credible. Do people listen when you speak up? Do you have credibility at work that comes from a strong track record? It’s important to maintain credibility as a leader in your area of expertise and demonstrate accountability and strong communication skills. All of these things boost others’ trust in you at work.
  • Be relational. Are you spending time nurturing authentic relationships with your team? Put in connection time in addition to working time. Get curious about who your team members are and what they need from you.
  • Be the example. Set the example with your peers and your team, be vulnerable, and be the first one to own up to a mistake. As you take the lead, others will follow and this will become the culture.

 

 

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