Let me ask you a question; at work, are you comfortable asking for help, admitting mistakes and limitations, and offering feedback?
What about others on your team, how would they answer?
Great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level, and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviours.
In a survey of over 4,000 people, 84% of respondents said they would trust their co-workers more if those co-workers admitted their mistakes.
If admitting weaknesses can lead to greater trust amongst team members, why don’t we do it?
Patrick Lencioni differentiates two types of trust; the first is predictive trust. This comes about when we can predict another person’s behaviour. When any group of people have known each other for long enough, they will have predictive trust; they will be able to predict one another’s behaviours and responses. According to Lencioni, this isn’t really trust when it comes to a team. What he speaks to is vulnerability-based trust; when people on a team say things to each other like: “I made a mistake”, “I don’t know”, “I need help” “I’m sorry”.
To understand the power that vulnerability-based trust can have on a team, think about a team that you have been on where people didn’t say those things; they didn’t admit their mistakes or ask for help or apologise. Not the safest feeling, is it?
Want to know the real kicker?
If just one person on the team isn’t willing to be vulnerable, it negatively impacts the whole team. Just think, how likely are you to admit a mistake if you never see your manager or peers do it? How likely are you to show weakness and ask for help if you think you’ll look stupid or be reprimanded? Not very.
So, where do we start?
Lencioni uses an activity called Personal Histories as a starting place for building trust. The team take turns answering 3 questions:
1. Where did you grow up?
2. How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in that order?
3. Describe a unique or interesting challenge or experience from your childhood.
The questions open up an opportunity for team members to share something personal and gives the others some insight into why they are the way that they are.
Give it a try with your team and let me know how you go.
Jess Weiss / Managing Consultant