In our last post we talked about what trust means to a team. Understanding the value of trust is the first step in building it. There is no team without trust. But we can’t buy it, or create it over night. We may have spotted a need for it, but it may feel like if there is nothing you can do about it immediately, there isn’t anything that can be done about it at all.
Trust is a phenomenon that develops over time. Think of the first time you met your best friend or spouse. Did you trust them completely right at that moment? Probably not. It took some time and some work to build that trust. You can’t trust someone you don’t know. You may have been working with the same MSA core, or same board of directors for the last few years, but you may have no idea what they’re really all about.
To build trust there are a number of different exercises you can try. You can try the fall-backwards-off-a-table-blindfolded-and-hope-your-team-members-catch-you-before-you-break-your-neck trust exercises. Or, you can try to build trust organically. The key to working better with your team members is to start to build trust the same way you would in any other relationship. By getting to know them.
Doing a small personal histories exercise can go a long way. On your next agenda, slot in some time for a personal history exercise. Go around the table and have everyone answer four or five questions. Not simply “What are your hobbies?” but try something a little more pressing like, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through, and how did you get through it?” You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about a person in scenarios like this. Keep in mind you want to keep the questions appropriate for your environment and the smaller the group the easier this is. It won’t work if this is a 30 person meeting.
I’ve found in my work that simple realization that you need to have a trusting relationship with your peers, as opposed to a “Hey I just know you from 9-5” type relationship is the start of a very big difference in your work environment. You then need to subsequently start to change your behavior. You’ll find yourself going from “Can you do this task for me?” to “Can you get this project done by next Tuesday? Are you sure? I know you’ve got X, Y, Z going on, but if you say it, I’m trusting you’re going to have it done.”
Another note about trust, it takes a lot longer to build than it does to break. If you ever notice you or your team members saying or doing things that might make trust erode, be sure to stop them. Trust has to be protected. Defended even. Once you have it, don’t ever violate it, and don’t let anyone else violate it either.