Building a successful team is a concept that most people can mentally grasp without too much explanation. The idea of it all seems simple enough – you get a bunch of people together, plan a common goal and work together to achieve said goal. Sounds simple, right? It seems easy enough, but exactly how does one go about the mechanics of uniting a bunch of individuals with separate desires and needs? Besides the obvious reward of salary, how does a leader begin to convince a diverse group of people, that working towards a certain end is in the common good?
There are many methods leaders may employ to achieve positive teamwork. In our case, the first and most obvious step is through trust culture. The foundation of a collaborative and successful team operation is not management, following orders, fear for one’s job or authority. It is not simple dictation to each individual their job expectation and time frame. It is actually in point of fact, trust. And trust, like most any inter-personal concept such as humor comes from the environment that it is nurtured in.
Examples Of Trust Culture
For example, Ricardo’s boss runs his small paper company as if he is captain of the ship. Orders are to be followed without question or delay. Management runs a ‘tight ship’, is very hierarchical and tolerates no “goofing around”. Lighthearted fun is discouraged and joking around in any manner is unacceptable. Commencing from when an employee enters the workplace, to until they leave for the day, conduct is expected to be 100 percent business. No social gathering and no messing around.
Ricardo is paid well for his work and does his job to specifications, but leaves each day feeling empty and oddly alone. Because of the strict “business only” culture, nobody that works with him offers any sort of camaraderie or helping teamwork resulting from the fear of appearing too friendly or overtly casual. Therefore he lacks any sort of personal relationships with many of the people in his life outside his family. No out of workplace social functions are offered and the few enterprising individuals who have attempted in the past to gather co-workers have quickly given up because nobody shows up to their events. Even their annual Christmas Party was cancelled for the last two years.
This not to suggest a place of work must become a house of laughs. This would of course cause even more problems that a strictly business culture. However, when people spend forty to sixty hours a week in a working environment, it has been suggested that some casual and social interaction between employees can not only help with strengthening morale — it can actually work towards facilitating the trust culture that in turn fosters team building. Without the personal connections experienced at a social level, how well do Ricardo and his co-workers function as a team?
Improving The Situation
What we witness here is a work environment that has no trust culture built into it because something as simple and human as humor and social interaction on a casual level is discouraged in the company’s daily operations. Lack of trust in turn, breeds negative constructs such as lack of communication and the inability for a group to come together as a team. It is in fact a negative trust culture that is developed and has proven to impact productivity negatively.
This by itself doesn’t stop a business from running. Millions of them manage just fine each day across the planet operating under such parameters. What leaders must ask themselves is how much more effective their people could be if the management crew fostered an environment of trust – not just trust from employee to employee, but mutual trust extending both from management to employees and vice versa.
How can this situation be changed for the better? It is somewhat unfortunate but the true solution to this negative cycle rests in a top-down paradigm. Yes, employees themselves can attempt to band together and change the trust culture from a grass roots level, although this would involve continued effort and organization that involved the vast majority of co-workers in the workplace. Not only would they be attempting to turn the tide of ingrained acceptance concerning the present culture at work, they would also be operating against the rules and standards of the people in authority. This is never a good recipe for being on good terms with the powers that be, which in turn can leave the individuals concerned about a negative career path.
Through well designed programs that build awareness and skills and made available to people and groups in positions of authority (owners and management) it must be made clear that by them displaying an atmosphere of open communication fostering trust, they can begin team building. This team, acting in concert with one another instead of individually, can then offer the company as a whole improved morale and increased productivity leading to higher profits profits. Happy employees are more likely to apply themselves beyond minimal expectations and work towards a common goal of company wide success. By the leaders stepping in and consciously changing the negative environment into that of a trust culture, they can then move into a process of team building that ultimately will benefit not only the people concerned but the company as a whole.