In my business, I work with teams on a regular basis, to help them enhance their cohesion, performance and productivity. Usually when I meet with a team for the first time I will ask them, what they consider to be the number one dysfunction of either their team or teams in general. Every time I ask this question, I can pretty much guarantee what their response will be. In almost every scenario the reply I receive is, communication. By this they mean, a lack of communication or poor communication. This is interesting, because a lack of communication or poor communication is actually an outcome of the number one dysfunction in teams, which is a lack of trust.
Think about it for a moment. If you and I are work colleagues and we don’t trust each other, then we are unlikely to share information and ideas, collaborate and help each other out, or discuss our fears or concerns. If I don’t trust you and you question my ideas, then I am more likely to see this as you questioning my capability or competency rather than assume you have a genuine reason for your query. Trust generates confidence. A lack of trust generates suspicion. Gandhi explained, ‘the moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.’
A lack of trust causes more than just a lack of communication. It also costs money. When you think about it, a lack of trust often creates more rules, regulations, processes, administration and monitoring. By way of example, a lack of trust around the intentions of people at airports, now means we have much longer queues and a great deal more screening, with a much larger number of people being employed to manage these processes. Naturally you may suggest that this lack of trust is warranted in the airport context, and I agree, I would prefer to travel safely when flying. But think about this in the context of your own work environment. Are you spending more time filling out the paperwork than delivering the baby? (naturally apply this analogy as appropriate within your own setting).
So, how do you know if you and your colleagues have trust? Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric said, ‘You know it when you feel it.’
Think about the people that you trust. Consider how you interact with those people and how much you share with them. Now think of someone that you do not trust and reflect on how you interact with that person and what you do and do not share. Is there a difference? Of course there is. The question then becomes, is that lack of trust warranted, and can I do something about it? Particularly in the work environment, mistrust tends to come from misunderstanding.
One last question that I invite you to consider is.…Who trusts you?