For any team to perform well, it needs to start with the foundation of trust.
Patrick Lencioni's 5 Dysfunctions of a Team claims that trust is the first step to fixing dysfunctional teams.
Teams that suffer from an absence of trust will not be able to function cohesively.
But what it trust? What does it look like? What does an absence of it look like? And how can the absence be overcome?
The Absence of Trust
Team members that lack trust with one another suffer several symptoms.
Hiding Weaknesses or Mistakes
When team members do something wrong, or have inadequate skills, they should feel free to admit it. But when they don't, it stunts professional development and leads to a lack of self-awareness. As a knock-on effect, the centre may provide an inadequate service to the children and families by not fixing mistakes or a lack of skills. And at its very worst, it puts children at risk.
Not Asking for Help
A knock-on effect of not admitting weaknesses, when a team member doesn't ask for help, quality suffers. Not only that, but it can lead to educator burnout. It can be as simple as even asking to cover breaks, for help in a room or for advice on how to deal with a certain situation.
Questioning the Intent of Others
It can be as simple as someone asking 'what have you been up to today?' Whilst someone may be interest in your day, a person lacking trust may feel questioned or attacked about their productivity.
The perfect example of what some call a 'toxic' work environment. Constant drama between educators, but more importantly it stunts the growth of the team. Imagine a select few people are always shut down for their ideas based on personal differences; they'll be much less likely to speak up & you may miss that amazing idea for a learning experience because they were too scared to voice their opinion.
When team members feel judged for their opinions or results, they may dread sharing with team members. Whilst lots of meetings could be considered pointless, this is one sure-fire way to make sure every meetings starts and ends with no purpose.
Overcoming the Absence of Trust
To fix issues that arise from an absence of trust, Lencioni states that team members should be VULNERABLE with each other.
Vulnerability is a key component of building close relationships. By reciprocating vulnerability, we decrease the likelihood of using someone's weaknesses against them, and the suspicion of someone using your weaknesses against you.
But how do we promote an environment that encourages vulnerability? Here are a few examples.
Leaders Going First
Leaders should set the example by showing vulnerability themselves. Ask for help when you need it. Delegate tasks to others who may be better at something. Share your mistakes and weaknesses.
Certain activities can be used to build trust and encourage vulnerability. One is a task where team members should mention one positive about each team member, and one thing they would personally like to work on. This builds self-awareness and vulnerability by sharing weaknesses, and can help to combat grudges held by sharing positive things about teammates.
Another activity to combat the dread of meetings may be to ask team members to bring a 'fun fact' or story they learned that week. This should be outside of work, and can seem meaningless but it combats the fear of sharing results as it's creates a fun element around sharing things with each other.
Do you notice any symptoms of an absence of trust in your team?
It's important to note that some of these things can be personal characteristics, so you should look for patterns in your team. If it is one or more individuals, it's imperative that you work with those people in a similar vein to avoid these traits replicating across the team.