Your Team Likes Each Other, But Do They Trust Each Other?

trust puzzlePaul Zak, Professor of Economics at Claremont University, found that when less than 30% of people trust each other, poverty usually increases in that country.

What havoc is a lack of trust causing in your organization? It may be hard to put a price tag on it, but it’s probably causing ideas and solutions to dry up.

Here’s why. One of my mentors used to say, “Any good idea can become a better idea if it’s subjected to robust dialogue.”

Imagine that trust abounds on your team. You bring up a good idea at a staff meeting, and because there is a high level of trust within your team, people begin to talk. Each person shares a different perspective and adds a twist that no one had thought of before. The discussion is dynamic, and in a little while, the good idea you had has become an even better idea—thanks to the magic of robust dialogue. (Not only that, but it’s become a shared idea—another major bonus!) Together you’ve developed a plan for overcoming what once seemed to be an insurmountable problem. Is that a dream?

Here’s a nightmare. Imagine that trust is at an all-time low on your team. Solutions to problems seem almost impossible to find. Finally, you have an idea that just might work. You bring it to your team, and because trust is low, no one dares to be vulnerable enough to speak up. There is no robust dialogue because no one trusts each other enough to share their perspective. Without robust dialogue, your good idea remains exactly that—a good idea. If and when it is implemented, it is not powerful enough to actually solve the insurmountable problem. The lack of ownership from the rest of the team prohibits them from having the passion needed in the execution phase to create success.

Sound familiar? It happens all the time. It’s the recurring nightmare of organizational effectiveness.

Oh the power of trust! What does it look like? How can you nurture trust on your team? Here’s a list of traits that teams with a high level of trust usually possess.

  • They ask for input and assistance from teammates.
  • They give help when requested, even when a task is outside their duties.
  • They compromise when it is necessary.
  • They refrain from talking about absent team members.
  • They promptly respond to a team member’s request for more information.
  • They practice “intentional redundancy” when communicating with others.

Start practicing those things and trust will grow. Watch trust grow and you will see ideas and solutions popping out of nowhere.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources

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