Do your team members trust you and each other? These days, leaders are busy taking their teams on bowling outings or to participate in volunteer events. These occasions definitely allow team members to form bonds and strengthen company culture. But, when you need your team to buckle down and commit to completing an important project, trust is what makes the difference.
The best way to build trust is to share your vision. In her Workforce post about teams in the workplace, Janice Smith refers to Patrick Lencioni’s discussion on this topic. If you want your team to start off committed to a project, explain why it matters and show your enthusiasm.
Over time, if the project requires working long hours, your team’s commitment may start to fail. That’s when you need to call people together. Acknowledge their hard work. Recognize that they are making sacrifices. And remind them of purpose, the reason you're all working so hard.
They may be building a product that will ensure the longevity of the company and their jobs. Or they may be designing software that will help medical professionals care for critically ill patients. Regardless of the task, if you want to team members to be engaged, they must trust you and trust that their work matters.
You can also show you deserve their trust by how you handle the non-optimal behavior that surfaces in high pressure situations. When employees get tired, and the outcomes they hoped for aren’t happening, emotions run high. The way you handle the employees who exhibit these behaviors can make or break the trust factor in your organization.
The first kind of negative behavior you’ll see is unproductive conflict. Team members will disagree about the best way to complete a task or about how to read the results of a survey. In fact, some amount of conflict is healthy. To maintain a positive work environment, insist that team members treat each other respectfully while they move toward a compromise. If necessary, assemble the involved team members and help them resolve the issue in a productive manner.
Scorekeeping is another type of negative behavior that your team members may engage in when they’re stressed. When you sense that a team member isn’t keeping up with what they’ve promised to do, speak with them directly. Find out if they need additional resources to complete the task. Remind them that they are a valued team member and encourage them to keep going.
When your employees see your commitment and watch your visible actions to help them meet their goal, they’ll trust you and do their best work.