Some teams thrive and tragicallyÂ some teamsÂ do not.Â There are many reasons whyÂ oneÂ team fails and another succeeds, but one ofÂ the biggest factors is the amount ofÂ trustÂ among team members.Â Â Simon Sinek writes,Â “If certain conditions are met and the people inside an organization feel safe among each other, they will work together to achieve things none of them could have ever achieved alone. The result is that their organization towers over their competitors.â€
Thankfully, I have been blessed to work on several good teams where IÂ felt this type ofÂ safety. Â In my current assignment, I work with a team of people that strive to help, empower and love one another. Â We oftenÂ donâ€™t do it perfectly, but we aim to do it better every day. Â On this team, I have been given a measure of responsibility,Â and so I try to facilitate teamÂ member careÂ in at least three ways.
Investing. Â The first way to establish trust is by investing in someone and showing you care about them growing in their role and growingÂ as an individual.Â There are many ways to do this, one way is throughÂ theÂ sharing ofÂ resources. Â Whether it is as simple as passing along a good blog or podcast, or finding a great conference that would be beneficial to them,Â passing along resources to help, empower, and set othersÂ up for success, lets them know you care about them growing. Â When people feel likeÂ others are trying to help them do better, and be better, they feel valued.
Passing along a few resourcesÂ and sending people to a few conferencesÂ are not enough, however, to make them feel genuinely safe and cared for. Â The greatest investment you can make in someone is to give them your time and attention. Â To slow down enough to simply check in andÂ see how they are doing. Â To ask about theirÂ life andÂ family. Â To take a moment and grab a cup of coffee toÂ find out about the biggest challenge they are facing, andÂ then offer them some advice. Â Investing your most valuable resource, your time, goes a long way to building theÂ trust that is needed in successful teams.
Listening. Â This leads to a second way to make people feel safe, byÂ genuinelyÂ listening to them. Â Note the word genuinely. Â Many people are horrible listeners. Â SomeÂ are good at pretending to listen. Â Other peopleÂ are actually good at listening forÂ comprehension, but even that is not enough forÂ developing trust on a team. Â The type of listeners that are good team builders areÂ empatheticÂ listeners.
EmpatheticÂ listeners not only listen andÂ comprehend what is being said, but they make the effort toÂ feel what the other person is feeling. Â They seek toÂ understand why a person is saying what they are saying. Â They ask clarifyingÂ questions. Â They give them their undividedÂ attention. Â Â They quietly listen rather than speak, seekingÂ toÂ â€œunderstand before being understood.â€ Â This is the type of listening that builds team member trust.
Many times, however, we are soÂ busy doing our own thing that weÂ never slow down to reallyÂ listen to whatÂ is going on in the life of a team member. Â They may be stuck, or confused, or hurt, but we wouldnâ€™t know because we never actually listen to what is going on in theirÂ world. Â People feel safe when they feel like that have someone to talk to,Â and someone that will listen to them and care.
Loving.Â Perhaps the greatest way toÂ grow trust on aÂ team is when people make a mistake and theyÂ still feel loved after making it. Â This doesnâ€™t mean we let mistakes go unaddressed. Â AnÂ â€œanything goesâ€ culture will kill a team just as quickly as a lack of trust. Â Also, not addressing things with people is an unloving thing to do, as itÂ doesnâ€™t give them the opportunity toÂ learn and grow like they should. Â Trust is established, however, when mistakes are made and theÂ conversation is more along the lines ofÂ â€œwhat are we going to learn from thisâ€ rather thanÂ â€œhow could you be so stupid to do this.â€
Unfortunately, many people donâ€™t serve inÂ environments where mistakes are tolerated, so when they inevitability happen, anÂ opportunity for growth is missed. Â Whether someone fails due to a lack of attention or because they triedÂ something new that just didnâ€™t go quite as planned (which are two very differentÂ kinds of failure), there isÂ anÂ opportunity to learn and grow. Â Great teams grow when someone messes up, because they help that person become a better personÂ learning from their failure, rather than beating them down because of it.
These are three ways that IÂ strive to develop a culture of trust and safety on my team. Â I strive to do theseÂ because I want us toÂ achieve things none of us “could have ever achieved alone.”
What other ways do you see to build safety among teams?