The “T” in Team
By Deon Wassermann – Consultant, IQbusiness
If teams live the Agile values and principles, they are more likely to grow the ever-so-desirable “T” in Team.
Referring to the principles of the Agile Manifesto – “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”, and “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation” – you can be sure that you are on the right track if your team spends time together daily and prioritises having face-to-face conversations.
Unfortunately, however, building the “T” for Trust within a team doesn’t happen without concerted effort from all involved parties.
It is crucial to be specific when we talk about trust in the context of teams. The word can easily be misused to push personal agendas and it’s often left open to interpretation.
Trust in teams means that team members don’t have to walk on eggshells all the time. Trusting your team means that you believe that their intentions are good.
Patrick Lencioni talks about predictive trust and vulnerability trust. Predictive trust means to trust someone to do something when they said they will do it, based on past experience. This is the relatively easy type to work towards.
Developing vulnerability trust, on the other hand, is not quite so simple. It requires, well, vulnerability; something that people are not always open to experience fully, and particularly is not most people’s area of comfort in a work context.
Feeling vulnerable generally sucks.
For a team to be great, though, members have to take the plunge and open up to one another. They then need to be confident that these vulnerabilities will not be used against them. This sort of “exposure” might include admitting shortcomings or mistakes, requesting help, being open to discussing failures, or being open to give and receive constructive feedback. If team members trust each other (on a vulnerability trust level, that is), they are more likely to:
Experiment – Without fear of failure, team members are more likely to try new things which could lead to innovation and improvement.
Speak Up – When a safe space exists for a team member to disagree and face the potential discomfort bravely, it might just lead to that final piece of the puzzle needed to solve a problem.
Ask questions – If the team’s environment (support ecosystem) fosters their growth, they’ll be comfortable requesting help when required. They are also more likely to ask questions when things just don’t make sense. The overall understanding, knowledge sharing and innovation within the team will increase.
Face team dysfunctions – Team members will be able to help correct team dysfunctions, being able to hold each other accountable, without the fear that being honest will put them in a disadvantaged position.
Do what’s right for the customer – In a team where openness and learning are promoted, it will be commonplace for members to challenge each other’s perspectives. Through collaborative design, discussion, and product development, they’ll be enabled to put the customer’s needs first, based on a much better shared understanding.
Reduce waste – Every time energy is spent on unnecessary admin, repeated meetings, being defensive, holding grudges or failing to express concerns, it’s a wasteful use of people’s brainpower, time and the group’s momentum. Teams that have built a strong trust foundation are free to focus their combined energy on what genuinely matters.
For a team to be great, trust is a must.
Do you want to know how a team goes about establishing trust?
We might have a few ideas…