When I think back to my earliest memories of trusting someone, the first person who comes to mind excluding my parents is my paternal grandfather. My grandfather had the confidence and self-awareness to be secure in who he was throughout all life’s ups and downs. He resonated trust.
Safety + Consistency = Trust
In my grandfather’s presence, I felt safe. He did not judge me. He met me where I was; he would get down on one knee, look me in the eye, and wait patiently while I ran to the garden edge to take a few of my mother’s flowers for him to deliver to my grandmother, as was our practice. He was consistent. On Sunday mornings, I could count on finding him sitting in the fourth pew from the front, left side of the church sanctuary.
It was not so much things he said or did, but the sum total of whom he was to me: my grandfather embodied the formula Safety + Consistency = Trust.
Like I did with my grandfather, people will long remember how they feel in your presence over words they hear you say. If you exude safety and consistency, then you elicit trust.
From the small confines of family culture to the wide context of corporate culture, the basic tenant behind human relations, be it family or colleagues, is trust. At work, the ability to feel psychologically safe in a work relationship means you can focus your attention on doing good work rather than being distracted by toxic behaviors born of insecurity that erode trust.
It’s All About Trust
For team building, trust is key. When people feel secure working together, they are united in a sense of pride and respect for each other. Teams thrive on certitude in each other’s performance. The team feels good, and that feeling creates expansive positive energy that enlivens work and increases productivity.
It’s easy to see the importance of trust in successful teaming when you look at teams in conflict. Rather than exhibiting high performance, divided teams stall and performance suffers. A lack of trust causes negativity and doubt, inhibiting performance because the human fight, flight or freeze response causes people to turn inward, protecting their own self-interest.
When Teams Break Down
When a team cannot be vulnerable with each other, look carefully at the team DNA. If one of the following behaviors is present on a team, the team will experience an absence of psychological safety and trust:
· The Hitchhiker. Teams benefit when everyone pulls their weight. Sometimes, you find that person who lets everyone do the heavy lifting while they skate through. That’s the hitchhiker, along for the ride. Find out what motivates this person. What are their strengths? They might be in the wrong role.
· The Nay-Sayer. Buy-in gives everyone momentum, so a negative person who always has a reason against the project, idea, task, person, etc., drags everyone down. It’s easy to criticize. Help the critic be part of the solution rather than the problem. Require specific reasons for rejections and solicit other ideas from them for every nay they offer.
· The Illusionist. Watch out for the person who talks about being “so busy” with little to show for their efforts. At first, they seem like a team player and dig in with the rest, but they really want to do minimal work and take maximum credit. Ask open-ended fact-finding questions to get clear on what’s really on their plate.
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