The levels of trust within a team determine its effectiveness and health. Without trust, teams can be plagued with hidden agendas, defensiveness, and passive aggressive maneuvers. During team meetings, the best ideas are lost, as members censor themselves. Without the necessary conflict of ideas, the team is more likely to make inferior decisions–with disastrous results. Without trust, this cycle worsens as members shield themselves from blame, withhold crucial insights, and produce more inferior results. As members withdraw (psychologically and emotionally) from the group, their first priority becomes self-preservation.
Do I trust others at work? Am I a trustworthy member of my team?
To create trust on the team, members must let down their guard and show vulnerability. This is hard! And often counter-intuitive. We’re primed to compete and hide our weaknesses. But if our leaders model a healthy sharing of their feelings (fear, frustration, confusion), others will feel safe to follow. Now a new cycle can begin. As trust grows, members discuss conflicts or misunderstandings before they escalate. They discuss their inferences, instead of assuming the worst of their colleagues.
EQ skills make us trustworthy. As we recognize our emotions, we can acknowledge them to others—building empathy and avoiding mixed messages. As we practice tolerating and managing our reactions, we communicate with more skill and less reactivity—helping others feel safe even in conflict. As we examine our unconscious self-talk, we intercede before an unhealthy assumptions creates problem behaviors.
Team reflection: Have we made poor decisions because members did not feel willing to share vital information? Is there a current issue that is taboo? Any current conflict can uncover deeper issues within the team. Can we invest time to understand each others’ point of view? This investment can pay huge dividends.
Journal prompt: How comfortable am I with self-disclosure at work? On a scale of 1-10, how much do we trust others at work? How can I improve levels of trust with my coworkers?
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