In How NASA Builds Teams, Charles Pellerin addresses the team behaviour of keeping agreements. At Summit Group, we often describe trust as the foundation of a team; without it, you cannot build a solid, high performing team. Stephen R. Covey has written and lectured extensively on trust and has even developed a model likening trust to a bank account. Certain behaviours are like deposits to our trust account with another person, others are like withdrawals. High performing teams have team members who keep a healthy balance in all of their trust accounts.
It is important to specify that team trust is based on much more that intent and effort. The quality of the outcomes is also important.
There are specific behaviours that we recognize contribute to trust. Keeping our promises is one of the most important. This includes ‘inferred’ promises such as meeting project/reporting deadlines, being prepared and prompt for meetings, following up on actions we’ve committed to and, basically fulfilling the responsibilities of our own jobs in order that our colleagues can do theirs. In a high trust environment, people also spend fewer wasted hours second-guessing and generally fretting that others may not come through for them.
Sometimes, breaking a promise is unavoidable and understandable. Serious family matters, weather events and technology failures can contribute to missed deadlines or late appearances. Here is where a timely ‘heads up’ and a sincere apology come in. Your ‘trust account’ may take a small hit but, if the balance is healthy, trust will remain high, particularly if you take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Trust is also about loyalty. Leaders and team members that go to bat for one another create loyalty. Those who act or gossip behind the backs of their colleagues create suspicion and mistrust.
So, do your team members enjoy a climate of high trust? Do they keep promises with each other, with partners and with clients? Do they feel strong loyalty to the team, the leader and their partners?