Mistrust can kill your team
Oct 08 2012, 17:05 | By SME Mentor
Trust is a tricky thing. It can make all the difference between a healthy and productive team and one that tears itself apart. It is therefore imperative that a team leader creates a healthy culture of trust because a team that trusts is secure and also performs better.
This crucial ingredient, intangible yet a powerful motivator, works on two levels - between team members as well as between them and their leader. Either way, the onus is on you because a good team leader always sets the tone. This would mean setting up a transparent system, assessing performance as objectively as possible and never playing favourites.
Remember, mistrust can go viral very quickly. So here's a checklist that will help you detect the problem and nip it in the bud.
How to take a trust-check
Are your team members too guarded? Keep an ear open for stilted conversations and lack of openness and authenticity in conversations. Do your team members think twice about what they say and to whom they say it? Lack of trust is also fertile ground for people to jump to conclusions and hold grudges against each. You will be surprised how much energy it takes to manage a team that mistrusts each other. So, identify the problem quickly, before work starts to suffer.
Watch out for blame games: Passing the buck is not unusual but when blame games become habitual, it's a sign of a deeper malaise. If your team members do not own responsibility, both individually and collectively, your business will not be productive. Since energy is directed at protecting oneself and pointing fingers, the focus shifts away form work. Says Vijay Gupta, a behavioral expert and also Founder and President of TeamResults Corporate Solutions Ltd, "Blaming each other for failure and trying to be seen by the entrepreneur/leader as being more reliable than the other members is a definite sign that there is an absence of trust in your team."
Your business could take a hit: Have you noticed a lack of meaningful debate during meetings? Low trust stifles creativity and risk-taking. So, even if someone has a brilliant idea, they are reluctant to share it with the team. Creative thinking, brainstorming and problem-solving take the fall. If you notice that your team members are not actively involved in meetings, and work in general, the problem could be lack of trust.
Mistrust kills team work: Mistrust is essentially associated with suspicion about information and it therefore results in reduced information exchange and feedback between members. They stop soliciting or offering performance feedback to each other, which robs opportunities for self-correction. Monitoring performance then falls to the entrepreneur or team leader, who already has too much on their plate. Mistrust also compromises the ability to anticipate other team members' needs through accurate knowledge of their responsibilities. This includes the ability to shift workloads among members and assist each other to achieve balance during periods of high workload or pressure. Perhaps it's time to take a trust-check?
Mukti Shah is a Clinical Psychologist, Corporate Consultant and an accredited Entrepreneurial Motivation Trainer.
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