April 23, 2014

R Strands for Rebuilding Trust: A Quick Quiz to Test Your Trust Level With Your Team

"team of climbers on the summit"

Does Your Team Trust You? Take the Assessment Below to Find Out.

In today’s business world, leaders are finding that rebuilding trust…once broken can be a daunting task…one tiny thing happens or a wrong word spoken and trust goes flying out the window.  While there are numerous trust building and team building activities available today, I believe it is important to assess your current level of trust with your team before pursuing things such as outdoor trust building activities, retreats or even a conversation addressing any questions about trust.

When it comes to building trust, there are some very important things that employees are looking for in a leader, and they include (but are not limited to):

  1. A sense of safety.
  2. A sense that you are honest and truthful.
  3. A belief that you will make sacrifices, even put yourself and your job at risk for them.
  4. A sense that the team has a shared interest with each other AND with you…that you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction because you do share a common bond/interest.
  5. The ability to have open, honest and candid communication with you without feeling a fear of punitive action.
  6. A faith that you are leading them to a positive outcome (things may be shaky, but they know you are not going to leave them high and dry or throw them under the bus).
  7. A sense of confidence in your ability as a leader
  8. A feeling of authority…knowing that you are “in charge” but that you are not a dictator or a bully.
  9. A belief that know what you are doing…that you are competent at the job you are doing.
  10. A belief that you will honor your promises…and that if the promises don’t pan out, you will apologize and admit your shortcomings.

So, if you are a leader, and you are wondering how trustworthy you are, take this quick assessment.  When you complete the assessment, add up the number of “yes” answers you check and you will be directed to a page to give you an honest breakdown on how your team may feel about  you at this time. The only way to begin to rebuild trust is to become aware of your trust level at this time with your team and begin working on those things which may seem tiny to you but HUGE to your team members.  It may also be helpful to have a team member you trust take the assessment on your behalf to give you an honest read on how the team may feel.

For another great post on strategies for building trust, visit this blog.

Trust Assessment

Please honestly answer "yes" or "no" to the following statements to determine if you are inspiring trust in your team. Before you hit the submit button, calculate the number of "yes" answers you chose. The assessment results with an explanation of your score will appear once you hit the submit button.

A is for Accountability

Tardiness. Bickering. Indecisiveness. Blaming. Irresponsibility.

Does this sound familiar? If so, your team (or family) may be suffering from a clear lack of accountability.  While I realize the “A” word is used and overused, I am going to continue talking about it, because I believe a clear accountability process is critical for companies, both large and small, to be able to thrive in the future.

Here is what I experience with many leaders I coach.  One of the first questions I ask is this “Tell me about your accountability and decision making process.  How does it work?”  Approximately 93% of the time, the response is “Uhm, well…er…we don’t really have one.”  As I begin to talk more with the leader about how an accountability process might work and how it can…

1) Save time

2) Stop team conflict

3) Improve decision making

4) Make more money

5) Reduce a stalemate

and so forth, their eyes light up.  They get so excited.  I then say “So…tell me about how you feel about being the role model for an accountability process by giving your team permission to start calling you on your stuff?”  Guess what happens?  About 93% of the time, the leader decides against implementing an accountability system or process, because at the end of the day, they say they just don’t know that they can go through this.  They really aren’t ready to hear feedback from their team members and feel as if this approach would weaken her authority and diminish her credibility.

The opposite is actually true.  When a leader steps up and says “I am going to start being more efficient, more punctual, more open to your suggestions and am going to start being a better listener, and I need you to call me on the carpet when I’m out of line”, your team will be shocked, amazed and your credibility as a leader will dramatically increase.    Once the leader sets the stage for being held accountable, your team will “get it”, and then you and your team can sit down and hammer out a true accountability system which meets the needs of your company.  At the end of the day, with a solid accountability process…one that works…your team will feel much more secure about their role on the team and about you as a leader.

One idea on the topic of accountability is to start by identifying one tiny problem that keeps popping up on your team.  This could be tardiness to staff meetings, lack of follow through, not returning phone calls, clutter, dropping the ball, finger pointing or any type of team breakdown that gets in the way of your efficiency.  Start with one problem, and look at all of the reasons (at the root) which are contributing to the problem.  Acknowledge that the problem exists, discuss it with your team and then design an accountability system for that one problem, and give your team 3 months to get it worked out.  As much as I would love to give you a true formula for this (example…a 3 strike rule…3 strikes and you are out), I cannot…your team has to be the group to sit down and come up with a creative way to get people to correct a deficiency or problem, because trust me…one system does not fit all.  There are multiple approaches which include both consequences for falling short and rewards for success.  Sit down and come up with as many solutions as possible and then write out what your process will be and then follow it to the nth degree.

If you start today by addressing the accountability challenges in your company, your team will stand a much better chance of success in the future…trust me…I’ve worked with teams on this issue multiple times, and accountability processes do work, but only if you are willing to be the first to take the hit.

Can You Answer “YES!” To These 5 Questions? If So, Your Team Will Most Probably Succeed

I talk with leaders every day who say “I just want my team to be better…I want them to act like a team!”

What the heck does that mean?  “I just want them to act like a team!”

I suppose it means that everyone is getting along, getting results, finishing projects on time and helping your company to become better, stronger and quicker at everything you do.

The reality is that most organizations don’t take the time to sit down and actually “design” the team based on 5 core principles.  So…today, I am going to leave you with 5 questions to answer.  If you can say “YES!…Absolutely” to each one of these questions, then your team stands a great chance of success.  These questions apply to both large organizations and small businesses.

Question 1: Is your team small enough to be effective?

Many leaders choose teams based on “the more, the merrier” philosophy.  The truth is that too many cooks in the kitchen can destroy even the best recipes for success.  When you have 10, 12 or 14 people on your team, everybody has an opinion, conflicts start to build and the next thing you know, your project has come to a screeching halt.   Limit your team size to no more than seven people.  If you feel you must have ten people on your team, split them into two teams of five each, and assign each team an objective which will help you reach your big vision.  You will accomplish much more with fewer people to stir the pot.

Question 2: Does your team know where you are going, and are they inspired by that direction?

I interview quite a few teams each year, and this one question usually stumps most team members.  They usually say “Well…I work for the company, and I do what the boss says to do.”  Argh!  One of the biggest favors you can do for your team is to sit down and tell them where you are going, why this is important and how you need them to get on board.  This is your chance to get really, really creative.  Ask for input on the direction, describe what the project is going to look like, and get commitment from your team.  While I am not a “rah rah” person, it is a good idea to have a 5-minute pep rally with your team each morning…reminding them of where you are going.  Will you veer off on occasion?  Absolutely!  But…at the end of the day, if your team is buying into your direction, you stand a much greater chance of finishing projects on time and under budget.

Question 3:  Is your TEAM  being coached?

In the coaching work that I offer my clients, there are two types of coaching:  Individual Leadership Coaching and Team Coaching.  They are very, very different.  It is not uncommon for an organization to call me, and ask me to work with a “problem team member.”  I then learn during the one on one coaching that a team dynamic is usually at play that is causing frustration, slackness or insubordination from this one “problem team member”.  With team coaching, everyone is involved, and the coaching starts with the team leader…usually the CEO or the Project Manager.  Over a period of six months, the entire team is being coached both individually and with the full team in the room, and it works!  Stop relying on coaching one person, hoping things turn around for the entire team.  Just as in families, teams come with dynamics…quirks, agendas and biases, and team coaching can turn your team around on a dime.

Question 4: Does your team have structure?

Teams need structure.  They need a project plan and accountability.  If your team is not structured or seems disorganized, it’s time to sit down and map out a solid plan of action.  Post this plan of action and structured tasks on a large whiteboard or on a large board that displays what everyone needs to be doing each day.  With structure, you will have less questions and less confusion.

Question 5: Is your team allowed to openly debate your challenges and opportunities?

When I work with leaders, and I bring up the subject of “open debate”,  the leader usually freezes and says…”Oh…I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  Come on…they’re debating anyway.  They are either gossiping or snipping at each other when things are going wrong, or they are smearing their leader’s reputation behind his/her back.  With open debate, you give your team the psychological safety needed to speak their minds in a supportive environment.  Open debate is not just a venting session.  It is an opportunity for your team to get what’s really on their minds on the table, and in the end, you all agree on steps you will take to ACT on a solution.  If your team is not allowed to openly debate issues in front of the team, they are probably afraid of their leader, so look closely at your own leadership and how you can grow so that open debate becomes an opportunity for strenghtening your organization.

If you are someone who is interested in team coaching, contact Bea Fields today for a complimentary consultation.