Trust in the Workplace. Beer optional.

Frustration. Friction. Blaming. Labeling. Soap opera, or a team near you?

When you put two or more people together on a task, you’re likely to see people fall victim to the natural side effects of working with other, different people. Especially when the collective results aren’t as good as they need to be.

On teams struggling to get better results, you might hear a leader or manager say under his or her breath: “If everyone would just get along, we could be really successful.”

Based on our experience, it’s the other way around: “When we’re successful together, everyone can get along really well.”

When a team of people works hard and succeeds together, that shared victory accelerates everyone’s ability to be open to influence by others. In other words, joint success builds trust.

It’s a bit counter-intuitive, so to help we’d like you to take a few minutes and watch a highly-technical illustration of this effect – a Heineken beer ad titled “Worlds Apart”.

You’re doing this for the sake of making your organization better. Honest!

We believe our world needs more trust, because without it, frankly, work sucks. Everything takes longer and is harder than it should be. People spend their energy watching their backs instead of getting the right work done.

Most leaders understand this, and they also know trust doesn’t just “happen.” They believe trust takes time. Great leaders know they can accelerate trust by creating right environment with their team.

Even a small success can enable deeper vulnerability.

So you’ve watched the commercial? Good. There’s some stuff in there that can help you and your team.

Let’s break down what happened to the participants in the challenge:

1.     They commit in good faith to being part of a process they don’t know much about.

2.     They follow instructions inside of an organized space and perform tasks that weren’t hard yet required more than one person to accomplish.

4.     As they go through the tasks, they come to a shared consensus of what they’re creating (the bar) and how they can cooperate to build it.

5.   After they achieve a shared accomplishment they describe and define themselves to the other person and share some personal history.

6.     THEN they watch videos of each other’s views – which are strikingly opposite of their own.

7.     They are invited to stay and participate or to leave.

If people with radically different views can sit down and talk through them together, what could your team do?

How to improve team trust

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To be clear, you don’t have to start with a warehouse, some IKEA furniture, and a couple cases of Heineken! 

We believe building culture of trust that sticks around longer than a week or two requires a consistent, constant framework to be in place.

Here’s how successful teams we’ve worked with build trust together:

1.     Set the stage to allow employees to do their best work in a safe environment around an achievable task that matters. Make sure they have the materials they need.

2.     Create space. Allow people to take risks and make mistakes. Support the team by resisting the urge to help unless you’re asked.

3.    Success!

4.   Celebrate in a relaxed atmosphere and encourage the team to reflect on what made the accomplishment possible. Help them get to know each other better. Beer optional.

5.   With the newfound success and greater understanding between team members, repeat the process.

Hopefully you’ll experience small breakthroughs that lead to more and bigger successes. In our experience, most teams are just a finger’s reach away from greater trust and accomplishment.

If you find your team is unable to move forward building trust together, you may want to step back and look at how your organization is working overall. The steps we’re sharing only create long term results when they’re applied over time with the right intentions.

If you have further questions around building trust with your team, let us know. We’d be happy to talk through the process with you and see if we can help.