Regardless of the name it is given in an organization - teamwork or unity or something fancy like synergy – issues are par for the course when humans are involved.
A normal day becomes a day of trials when upon entering the office there is that feeling in the air – the leader knows, there is a disturbance in the force. When a synergy shift is noted, it’s time to put the detective hat on and determine whether these are temporary disturbances that are normative or if there is a deeper disruption festering within the group. In the course of an investigation of discordance a good sleuth will distinguish between symptoms and source(s).
When it comes to deficiencies in teamwork, often inexperienced leaders will address unity as its own source when in reality it is a symptom. Here's a thought - teamwork is not fixed by teamwork. To put it another way, talking about unity, training on cooperation or attempting to force synergy into the system often will not cure an issue as all of these efforts are chasing symptoms rather than addressing source. Teamwork is a product, it develops from other sources within your team. Conversely, a lack of teamwork is a symptom, it manifests to expose sources of malignancy within your organization. At its foundation, teamwork is a product of trust – the “T” in Team is for Trust.
Trust Springs From The Head Of The Fountain
When trust is built into the fabric of a team, teamwork will thrive. Without trust, teamwork will be cyclical at best and will not be able to establish roots within the organization. In the process of building a team, trust has to be a core value from the top down. A few questions that will help reveal whether there is a foundational trust issue include: 1) Does leadership trust each other? 2) Is the leadership team setting an example of trust? Leaders who believe in the vision, who respect their co-workers and promote the beauty of both will organically transfer a level of trust throughout the organization. Leaders who have not bought into the vision and/or have reservations about the trustworthiness of their coworkers will emit a level of distrust that will hinder the development of unity in the organization.
Trust Starts With Trustworthy People
Does your hiring process seek and add trustworthy people to the organization? Employees are watching who leadership hires, as who and how a company hires reinforces or contradicts what leadership has declared as it's values. Is there consistency in how leadership deals with core issues that test the building of trust within the team? The working measure of trust in the workplace is, “Can I trust you to do what you say?” When a team member commits to performing a task, regardless of how simple or complex, can the other members of the team trust that their teammate will do their best to follow through on their commitments?
Trust Builds Momentum Through Consistency
People that may not have the strongest interpersonal relationships can still work with each other, if they have trust. When there is a disturbance in the force, when leadership is asking why teamwork is scant, the investigation trail should be aimed at sources of trust/mistrust within the organization. Low teamwork does not mean throw more teamwork at the void. The question should delve into sources that are undermining trust. Do team members trust each other? Does management trust it’s employees?
Trust Flows Or Sputters With Conflict
If teamwork starts with trust, trust survives or dies with truth. Truth fleshes itself in an organization by having a clear vision and bringing people who are invested in seeing that vision through. Truth can be a source of conflict. When conflict is brought about by a tangling among team members over truth, this interaction can be a constructive encounter and must be managed properly to net a positive result (read more on this in our article Embrace Conflict). A commitment to truth, the development of trust and the momentum of teamwork are all ingredients that must be intentionally maintained over the life of a team.
Every organization desires unity, synergy will only result where teamwork is demonstrated, trust is protected and the truth is that teamwork has to be demonstrated. Are you an example for your team as to what teamwork looks like? Do your words and your actions establish the parameters for trust within your organization? The next time you have concerns or issues with teamwork, take a look at where trust is being built and where it is being undermined in your organization. Build trust by being creating clarity around truth in your organization, consistently protecting those values and developing accountability within the team from the top down and the bottom up. The first place to look when seeking to build trust, regardless of your position, is to ask whether you are exemplifying or undermining trust in the organization.
Jon Isaacson. Green belt in the puzzle art of business. Helping people clarify their vision, optimize productivity & follow through w/ creative solutions #MTWSL
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