The whole startup community is swamped with advice on how to grow and to build a structure with processes, goals, and KPIs. Lots of energy is invested to define values and ways of working. The end goal is to become productive and expand the business.
Why do we often go wrong here? We start with efficiency rather than relationship building. At most meetings, we dig into daily matters at once. We are immersed in business issues, organizing ourselves for more structure, and pressing for more growth.
It is very hard to reach top productivity when rigorous structure gets in the way. And what about a culture that nobody lives by and nobody who dares to pinpoint the issue?
What happens when goals are unrealistically set? “If I could work by my own ideas instead, our business could benefit far more”.
Also, what about 360 feedback sessions in a non-trusting environment, e.g. “I will not dare to provide full and honest feedback to my boss. It is better to just stay neutral and under the radar”.
At the end of the day, it is the basics that apply. If people trust each other and feel they can act in a “safe” environment, only then true productivity will follow…
What does it mean to trust?
In a trustworthy culture, people function in a predictable and consistent way. They know that in critical situations the others are there for each other and are committed to each other’s wellbeing. People are transparent about presenting their strengths and weaknesses and are curious rather than judgemental.
Why is it so hard to build trust?
As teams are pressed very hard at times, there is hardly any room for relationship building and meaningful talks to learn more about each other and what really matters, and the true purpose behind their efforts. We tend to revert to the most pressing items to get them done. This narrow focus reduces our ability to solve problems and assignments together and to come up with the best solutions or priorities, rarely thinking outside the box.
How can you go about building trust?
Trust is created over time and can be torn down in seconds. The good news is that you can start in micro-steps with frequent interactions on a relationship level. For instance, you may start your team meetings with a simple check-in question that allows for people to tell a personal story: “What did you want to become when growing up” is a fun personal question. Another good way is to have a thorough “get to know” intro chat between a team leader and a new team member. Whatever you decide it should be made a habit… and do it across the hierarchy or between distributed teams.
We at Rosebud Ventures call this team sharing or storytelling. It creates trust. “My boss has a crazy barking dog with big eyes, now I know her a bit. I can take up this sensitive issue because I feel she is just a fellow human”.
It is surprising how overlooked relationship building is for increasing productivity. The good news is you can start today. Try it and see what happens!- Maria Horelli-Rosenlew.
5 step team exercise for building trust
This team exercise is perfect before a longer meeting or work session especially when team members are new to each other.. Be curious, do not judge, just learn something about the person next to you:
Gather your team and divide them into pairs for a talk.
- Connect with your pair and let him/her tell you about him/herself by answering the following questions:
- Things from your personal background
- Professional thing that stands out
- Something “special” about you
- Listen actively, do not judge. Memorize. (3 minutes each), then switch roles.
- Gather your team again for a summary session.
- Retell the “story” of your pair to the rest of the team in a group.
You will be surprised how fun it is and how much you learn about each other in a very short session. And your immediate productivity will rise!
Go go go!
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