“A relationship without trust is like a cell phone without service. All you can do is play games.“ – Origin unknown
Business is supposed to be strictly about financials and hardnosed, logic-based decisions, based solely on what’s best for the company and its shareholders. Right? This seems to be the public perception of business, anyway, fostered by the popular media and sadly, by certain corporations where the quest for cash regularly overrides human concerns.
Those of us who actually deal with businesses on a daily basis know this perception is mostly untrue. What’s more important that the human side of business—the most important asset? In large businesses, whole departments exist that do nothing but find good workers and try to keep them happy. Of course, there’s an equilibrium point between satisfying workers and keeping the company profitable. To some extent, then, it’s up to the workers themselves to maximize their own happiness and productivity.
To borrow a phrase from the Declaration of Independence, I hold this truth to be self-evident: Closely-knit teams consisting of talented members who trust one another will perform at higher levels than if trust is lacking. (click to tweet) The keyword here is “trust,” a prime factor in developing team closeness. So how do you develop this kind of seamless productivity, especially if you’ve just joined a new team?
A team can work together without trust. It may even do so productively. But it can never shine as brightly if the links of trust never fully develop.
Keep this in mind about workplace trust: while it starts from the top, everyone on the team has to practice it. If you don’t lead the team, it’s up to you to reach out to your teammates and establish the trust needed to skyrocket productivity. The more the people on a team trust each other, the more comfortable they feel with each other; and as long as they don’t get bored or complacent, the higher their productivity can soar.
This brings us to a reality we’ve all probably heard way too often: trust takes a long time to build. While it’s become cliché, that makes the statement no less true. So be yourself, and be genuine. And trust can be shattered in an instant, so don’t gossip or talk about people behind their backs.
To build it, begin by reaching out to others, or by accepting their overtures if they’ve reached out to you. When you’re new, introduce yourself to everyone on the team and schedule 1-on-1 meetings, coffees, or lunches, so they can get to know you as more than a list of skills on your resume. While you don’t have to disclose private information, make an effort to share your hobbies, family, and life outside work. Make a sincere effort to reach out to all team members equally.
Honesty and Consistency
While you’re developing your social ties, put your best foot forward—and keep it there. Don’t kill yourself with overwork, but show your teammates your best performance from the word go. Make adjustments as needed to fit into the pre-established workflow; if you have some ideas about doing things better, now’s not the time to push them. Become an accepted team member first.
No one expects you to be perfect, but establishing and retaining trust requires honesty. Accept blame when appropriate, own up to your mistakes, keep your word, and tell the truth in all things. Integrity seems to have taken a backseat to ambition these days, but it still matters where trust is concerned. Do what’s right, even if it risks your job.
Consistency is also underrated. Why do people seek out Starbuck’s and McDonald’s? Because their products and service remain consistent no matter where you are. People know what they’ll get. You want to be the same, allowing people to predict your behavior and reactions, not walk around on eggshells, not knowing what to expect from you.
Walk the Talk
Good communications skills are part and parcel of consistency and honesty. It doesn’t matter if you know something that can help your team excel if you can’t or won’t tell them about it. Just as importantly, liberally share credit for your accomplishments, and make it clear you’re doing so. Make it clear you’re focused on team success, and others will trust you have their best intentions in mind.
© 2015 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website.