Contrary to popular belief, cultivating a high-trust culture is not a “soft” skill — it’s a hard necessity. Put another way, it’s the foundational element of high-performing organizations. Often, in poor-performing cultures, the virus that is infecting the organization is low trust and the symptoms are wide- ranging dysfunction, redundancy, turnover, bureaucracy, disengagement, and fraud. It’s not that leaders aren’t smart or don’t care; they’re just focused on the wrong cause and they mistakenly underplay trust-building when it should actually be the primary focus.
Campbell Soup Company Turnaround
Harvard Business Review recently reported that when Doug Conant became CEO of Campbell Soup Company in 2001, he identified “Inspiring Trust” as his number one mission. The results of Conant’s 10-year turnaround efforts included cumulative shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry, and becoming among the highest measured employee engagement levels in the Fortune 500. While most leaders agree that trust is necessary for building elite performance, not nearly enough realize its importance and consider trust-building as a “soft” or “secondary” competency. Those who have studied this story have discovered that trust is the one thing that changes everything. It’s not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Without it, every part of your organization can fall, literally, into disrepair. With trust, all things are possible – most importantly: continuous improvement and sustainable, measurable, tangible results in the marketplace.
Best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni says in his book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, “The single greatest advantage any organization can achieve is organizational health.” He adds that an organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. It is a messy process that starts by building a cohesive leadership team. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top lead to a lack of health throughout. Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups cannot seem to muster.”
Build Cohesive Teams
To begin improving your team and to better understand the level of dysfunction you are facing, ask yourself these five simple questions:
l. Do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?
2. Are team meetings compelling and productive?
3. Does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus?
4. Do team members confront one another about their shortcomings?
5. Do team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team?
Although no team is perfect and even the best teams sometimes struggle with one or more of these issues, the finest organizations constantly work to ensure that their answers are “yes.” If you answered “no” to many of these questions, your team may need some work. The first step toward reducing politics and confusion within your team is to understand that there are five dysfunctions to contend with, and address each that applies, one by one.
Begin By Building Trust
First, members of a cohesive team must trust one another. What Type of Trust is Needed? There are two types of trust that are (possibly) present with teams: “common” trust and vulnerability-based trust. “Common” Trust is the confidence or belief that a co-worker or team member won’t break generally accepted laws, norms, policies, etc. It’s the trust that you extend to others that they won’t steal the computers if left in the office alone. It’s the type of trust that we extend to each other when driving. We “trust” people know the rules of the road, will stay on the right side, and stop at red lights. Without “common” trust, it would be very difficult to operate as a company (or society). Belonging to the team typically grants you this type of trust.
Vulnerability-Based Trust is a much deeper confidence that you can be vulnerable with teammates. The belief that you can do things like take risks, ask for help, admit mistakes, or confront and hold others accountable without fear of retaliation, humiliation, or resentment. This type of trust has to be earned and given. Strong, high-performing teams base their entire foundation on vulnerability-based trust. “Common” trust simply isn’t enough. So, how do you build vulnerability-based trust? What if There Was a Way to Measure if a Team?
Assess Your Team
Begin with a team assessment that measures the extent to which team members. . .
1. Trust one another?
2. Engage in healthy conflict around ideas?
3. Commit to decisions?
4. Hold one another accountable?
5. Focus on achieving collective results?
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