When surveyed, 99% of workers responded that they are “effective” team members. (State of Teams survey of 11, 000 workers conducted by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) Interestingly, 2/3 of teams surveyed rarely offer constructive feedback to one another or question each other about their approach to work. 80% of people report that their team members are not willing to acknowledge their weaknesses to others. And 55% typically leave meetings without everyone committing to agreed-upon decisions. (Historical assessment data from The Five Behaviors Team Development, Wiley)
I chuckle as I type this because this is a pretty typical viewpoint. “It’s not ME. It’s not MY fault. I’m an AWESOME team member. Our team is a little screwed up – obviously it’s because of everyone else!” Now, more than ever, the WAY we “TEAM” matters.
As we continue with the “Rise to the Challenge” theme this month, I turn toward the part focused on challenging your team: Challenge the status-quo, what you are tolerating, how you work together, how you treat one another, your ability to innovate your work flow.
Foundational to challenging the status quo of your team is building trust. In cohesive and high-performing teams, members are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with each other, without filters. If team members can’t talk straight and be honest about their individual shortcomings, how do we expect them to openly address the overall shortcomings and mishaps of the team? Each individual must own their part, and being willing to say so.
What does a team who has achieved a high-level of trust do in practice? Admit their mistakes. Are forthright with information. Understand each other’s working styles and know each other on a personal level. Offer and accept apologies. Give credit where credit is due. Stop allow gossiping. Share failures and successes. Ask for help. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. The WAY we “TEAM” matters.
By taking action to build trust, a team creates a solid foundation that enables them to challenge one another in productive conflict, achieve clarity and buy-in to commitments, hold each other accountable, and ultimately achieve results that would simply not be possible or sustainable without their foundation of trust.
It takes hard work to become a cohesive, high-performing team. And the pay-off and benefits of investing in the hard work are both measurable and significant. I’m excited to be working with teams on this very journey today.