This is the time of year that many of my client leadership teams meet for annual planning. It’s two full days out of the office. As a big part of the first day, we focus on team health – leveraging Patrick Lencioni’s amazing work in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. The objective is to improve the health of the team by strengthening the trust among team members.
Do You Really Trust Your Team?
Initially most teams think they already have trust. They typically say something like, “I trust everyone on the team to do their jobs.” That’s not what we’re focused on when it comes to trust. It’s the difference between predictive trust versus vulnerability-based trust. Predictive trust is when you have experience working with someone for a long time and based on your experience you can predict how they’ll act in certain situations. This is how most people tend to think of trust.
Instead, I ask teams to focus on vulnerability-based trust. This is where people will genuinely say things to one another like, “I don’t know the answer.” “I need Help.” “I made a mistake.” Or, “I’m sorry, what I did yesterday was wrong.”
You can watch a short video of Patrick Lencioni describing the concept.
How to Improve a Team’s Vulnerability-Based Trust
Every year one of the team health exercises we do is the “One Thing” exercise. Everyone on the team gives real-time feedback to each member of the team in two areas:
1) What they think each other’s greatest contribution is to the team
2) One thing each person should either start or stop doing
In part two, team members address one another’s blind spots – the behaviors or attitudes they don’t even realize they’re doing that hold the team back. This is a safe space for this real, raw, and emotional feedback to take place.
Each member of the team takes a turn receiving heartfelt feedback from the rest of the team on both parts above. Some examples of feedback I’ve heard from leadership team members include:
- Stop pretending like you can do it all
- Start asking for help more
- Start thinking of yourself as a coach and leader
- Stop beating yourself up so much and celebrate your successes
- Stop taking “Bob” so seriously all the time – lighten up!
- Start slowing down in meetings and be more present in the moment
- Start extending your patience more
Normally, leaders of entrepreneurial companies are so busy in the day-to-day business that there’s no natural forum to give each other this type of feedback. And even if there is, both people are likely in the frame of mind to give or receive it as a personal attack. But in our annual planning sessions, we create a purposeful environment that makes it safe to share this feedback with one another.
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Get Real Results from Being Real
These are the tweaks and course corrections that teams need to make to get the company to the next level. Being real and raw with each other reaps huge rewards—relationally, productively, and financially.
As I write this post, I’m wrapping up an annual planning session with a team that has been in business for over 30 years. They have spent the last three years strengthening the team’s vulnerability-based trust, and in that time they set new records for revenue and profit. In just the last year they not only set records, they DOUBLED the company’s profit.
This is very typical of the results that follow within a year or two of my clients commitment to building vulnerability-based trust. Are you ready to see that kind of growth in your company?
Get your company to the next level in 2018. Schedule an introductory meeting with me today.