Review work on team dysfunction and the role of the executive in fostering trust, in words and deeds, and especially with virtual and remote teams.
- Mastering the dynamics of a functional and high performing team will yield a distinct advantage and help you adapt to the new realities of a rapidly changing work landscape. One thing I learned in the military and in business is that a team built with trust at its core is a foundation of a functional team. In order to build trust, ensure you start with crystal, clear expectations. This is best accomplished by articulating the distinctive purpose and ensuring the work is shared. That is the work isn't about people working alone and dumping files into Dropbox, but truly collaborating, brainstorming, and improving on the ideas and approaches of others to arrive at the very best business solutions. There are three steps to ensure this happens. First, ensure your team truly knows that no matter what, people must treat each other with respect. It's not enough to state this, but to ensure it becomes a standard. For this to happen, there has to be consequences when it doesn't happen and appreciation for when it does. This can be as simple as a look (chuckles) or as penetrating as a counseling session. Second, ensure you create a climate of shared accountability. That is, people who support one another. This can only happen if there is shared work and shared incentives. And I am not talking about monetary incentives. No, I am talking about how people are praised, recognized, and rewarded. Take the time to ensure you don't have competing values in your system that sends mixed messages for your team. For example, saying, "We're all about safety." And then driving to come in on time under budget no matter what is likely to be at the expense of safety. Third, foster cooperation. That can actually mean lead less. Yes, (chuckles) I said lead less. Cooperation is best achieved through groups that typically compete like the front and back office, sales and delivery, et cetera. What are the ways you can bring out the best in people? Keep in mind, information doesn't change behavior. So it's not about what you say, but more about how you create an environment that brings out strong performance. For example, build a team charter together that spells out how potential conflict will be resolved. You'll find a good team charter allows you to lead less and focus on the business rather than in it. There's no shortcut to creating trust and there's no such thing as an autopilot to maintain it. And it's not about off-site team builders. It's about changing the environment in which you work to maximize and sustain high performance.