Ila and Charles discuss the unique differences and complexities in creating high trust in a team setting rather than one-on-one, including the most common missing piece - it might not be what you think.
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Charles: Hi, I'm Charles Feldman.
Ila: And my name, Ila Edgar. And we're here for.
Charles: trust on purpose, a podcast dedicated to helping people build, maintain, and when necessary repair trust in the workplace, primarily, and even sometimes at home and in your community. today we're gonna talk about team trust and how do you build and maintain and, deal with trust issues, repair trust in a team environment. this may be one of two or three different podcasts addressing different aspects of team trust.
Charles: It's somewhat complex. It's a little more complex than one on one trust building. As many of you might imagine. Be aware of, but Ila, why don't you start out talking a little bit about what are the common signs of, a high trust team, a team that has trust, is functioning with strong trust and a team that perhaps is not functioning with high trust is the opposite.
Ila: I think you and I can both speak to experiences of working with both.
Charles: Absolutely. Yes.
Ila: some of the things that we definitely see, an experience when we're working with teams that have built high trust. Now, the interesting thing here is I think this sometimes also happens unintentional that there's something in the team that this is the natural way that they form the natural way that they behave.
Ila: And then we see teams that really put intention and attention to building strong trust. So one of the things that we see is they're able to use conflict productively and that right there, I think we could unpack a whole episode right there.
Charles: yes, you bet.
Ila: and immediately, you know, not to go down the rabbit hole, but immediately for me.
Ila: I don't love conflict yet. If I listen to Timothy Clark's, psychological safety, fascinating work. If you haven't read the book, the four stages of psychological safety, that actually conflict is about increasing intellectual friction. It's not about social. . And so when I was able to unpack that and go, oh, hang on.
Ila: We can put our intellectual friction on the table because we care and we wanna make it better. Then conflict for me was like, well, that's not really a thing Okay. So let's keep going. What else shows up in a team that has been able to build high trust?
Ila: they're highly engaged with each. and they know each other's work. Not that they're meddling, but they understand how the group works together. They're committed to each other's success and the team's success. So for me, that really speaks to that quadrant of care. They're accountable to each other. So that speaks to our domain of reli. They help each other develop innovative ideas and approaches. They collaborate. There's openness, honesty and transparency. And I think, again, for me, that really comes from that quadrant of care and also just, you know what? Yeah, I totally missed up.
Ila: I missed that deadline. I let you down. How can I take care of this? So that transparency and being account.
Charles: and I would just say that having trust in the domain of care, allows for open, honest, and transparent communication, but flipping it back around open honest and transparent communication builds a sense of care and assessment of
Ila: mm-hmm I love this one and this is that we actually deliver results. And how I'm pointing to you specifically in the words you used delights customers, like what an incredible feeling as a team to be able to delight your customers, whether they're internal or external, it doesn't matter, but oh, that just makes my heart burst.
Charles: Yeah, that's one of the things that I've, noticed over and over again about high trust teams is they do delight their customers. They delight themselves too. I think
Ila: Which can you imagine? And I can, cause I think I have worked on a couple of teams that were this way where I loved going to work. I loved the work that I did. I loved the people that I worked with. It wasn't easy. I remember startup of WestJet, building an airline from a binder in a business plan into something that is now 25 years old and still running.
Ila: It's a lot of heavy lifting. there were long nights and all sorts of things, but we did it because we trusted each other. We knew our purpose. We had a shared care. And we were willing to do whatever it took to delight our customers.
Charles: Yeah, that's really the output. people are looking for is getting results that delight the costume.
Ila: our conversation before the podcast recording, we were saying that we don't usually unpack. Success stories that we look at situations that maybe we have some tricks or some bumps or some challenges. But today I would love to hear about, you started telling me about a team that you worked on that was incredibly trusting.
Ila: And so let's talk about what that looks like.
Charles: Yeah, thank you. This was, in fact it turns out this was. First team that I ever had in my work life, where I was actually working in an organization. so the experience that I had there it was kind of unfortunate in some ways, because it turned out as I found out not to be the norm.
Charles: Necessarily, although I have certainly, in the many years, since then bumped into a good number of teams that were, at this high level of performance and this stronger level of trust. but this being the first one, it was many, many, many years ago. one of the things that struck me and strikes me still as I think about it.
Charles: I think back to that, time and that team, that group of people is that it felt organic. And I think we all also knew that to some degree we were intentional about it. we all worked in the student affairs division of a large university. and, our boss reported to a vice president, of the student affairs division or the vice president of the student affairs division.
Charles: he had a pretty big area of responsibility and, a big part of our team's success was due to him and how he led. and I will say that it also had a lot to do with how each one of us contributed to that, to that trust and to the, work we did together. So some of the things that, I think make for strong trust on a team, we just went through them, you know, sort of the behaviors of a, of a high trust team. But, we. Did in fact, talk sometimes about trust explicitly, we didn't have a good language for it. So it was a little awkward, in some ways, but we did sometimes talk about it. we talked about it more in terms of building strong trust with outside constituents outside stakeholders, and how, there may be concerns and how we might be able to do that better, but the lesson wasn't lost between us.
Charles: we did have some team agreements agreements about how we wanted to be with each other. this was really valuable, because just having the conversations about it. And it wasn't a one time thing because new people joined. And so as they did, we would reiterate what are our team agreements?
Charles: And can you buy into that? Can you agree with as well, So if we checked in on those periodically, they also came up sometimes when someone would, Actually, do something that was not in Alliance with a team agreement. So we would have a conversation about that and it wasn't a, blaming conversation, but rather, Hey, you know, we all agree to this and so what's going on here?
Ila: so I'm curious about that. And I'm thinking about a couple of teams that I currently work with. and they're really great with yes, absolutely. We wanna declare what our, team norm or our charter is and how we wanna be with each other, where they get stuck or tricky. The tricky shows up is now something is happened.
Ila: And how do I have that alignment conversation that says, Hey, this is something that we agreed to. I see something differently. So I'd love to hear how this team managed that.
Charles: Yeah. and I'm trying to even remember, like I said, this was a long time ago, so remembering specific instances is difficult. but in general, it was, again, it was not A blaming conversation. It was, Hey, we have agreed that we're going to make sure that we give each other honest feedback.
Charles: And Charles, I, I sense that you've been kind of withholding that Is that true? Is that the case what's going on? we really could benefit or so, and so could benefit from getting the feedback that you haven't been giving him or her, or we as a team could, so it would be that kind of conversation in general.
Charles: I also wanna say that, Robert. keegan, in at least one of his books talks about, and I do this often with, teams when I'm working through team agreements, that the agreement is great, but the most important piece is what are we gonna do when someone. Breaks one of those agreements because we were all going to, because we're all human.
Charles: So how are we gonna handle that? is someone going to pull that person aside and have a private conversation with them? Is that the leader's job to do that? are we gonna have a conversation behind that? Person's back about what to do about it and bring it back around. So how are we gonna do about it?
Charles: So then we all understand.
Charles: so for example, if one of our agreements is we don't have negative. Talk about the team outside of the team. may have a problem with how the team is doing something. We may disagree. and we can do that as vociferously as we possibly need to.
Charles: within the Container of the team. And, when we're outside of the team, we don't share that we don't bring that outside, but then somebody hears one of the team members talking to somebody outside and, So how is that handled? And do you bring it right to the person? Do you come back and bring it to the team leader and, let the team leader bring it back up? what's the expectation that we all have of each other when that happens, that then takes the person who's seen the behavior off the hook of having to figure out for themselves what to do in the moment.
Ila: Right, I was chatting with a client a few weeks ago and she shared this quote and I really love it. And she says you don't dig a well when you're already.
Charles: I like that. Yeah.
Ila: you don't dig a well when you're already thirsty. And so I think what you're sharing and what I love about this, what do we do when conversation before the, when has ever happened
Ila: is so incredibly important because you're right. We're all human. The, when is gonna happen, we're all gonna mess up.
Ila: Something's gonna happen. But knowing how we wanna take care of that because we care because we wanna maintain our trust to the best that we can. But I think that's a missing piece with a lot of relationships, period, let alone
Ila: So how do we take care of this before the, when ever happens?
Charles: exactly. And I can say that I don't think we ever had that conversation explicitly on this team that I was on. but somehow that seems to have gotten handled again. It's, a long time ago. we also when there was an issue when there was. our team leader was really good at ensuring that it was a conflict of ideas.
Charles: We kept it in the realm of ideas and not personal. I believe as humans as individuals, we all instinctively understood that that's the best way to have. and so we tended not to, go there not to fall into interpersonal conflict. although I think there were some times where some feelings got hurt around something and we'd moved in that.
Charles: and I think those. Dealt with between those two people and with the help of our team leader, who was very good at helping people kind of sort through interpersonal conflict and bring it back around to the, conflict of ideas.
Charles: not to say that that's the only way to do it. what I'm pointing at here is a lot of trust building in a team is the result of how the people on the team interact with each other. And it's also having a lot to do with how the team leader shows up, is authentic themselves. They actually walk the talk.
Charles: when they say we want. To be a, high trust team when they say, if they say, for example, high feedback team, when they talk about how decisions are gonna be made. And that's another piece, by the way, how decisions get made clarity around that, is really key because if that's a mystery, it.
Charles: Really quickly creates distrust. so it's, incumbent on the team leader to, to walk the talk, to do what he or she says they're gonna do or wants to do and to step in and guide the team to go first leaders go first.
Charles: It's their job, to. Be vulnerable to acknowledge mistakes, which is another piece on our team when people messed up, me included, and we became aware of it. We brought it up, we acknowledged it and said, yeah, I, screwed up here. What could I have done? what can I do better in the future? How can I learn from this and asking the team for input on that?
Charles: Not just sort of, saying it to ourselves or, with one other person on the team, but acknowledging it the whole team.
Ila: I'm giggling a little bit on the inside because I think. maybe in my own experience or what I see is that we take care of a lot of this stuff internally in our own head. We process it. We think about things. We have conversations with ourselves. Maybe there's a little of shoulding and cutting and wooding.
Ila: And, we think that we've taken care of things, but the real courage and the real work comes when the words come out of our mouth.
Charles: Yeah. And I think this was encouraged by our team leader, who did that and modeled it.
Charles: Because there's no way that I ever would've come up with doing that on my own.
Charles: I would not have stepped into that, spotlight of vulnerability without someone whom I respected very much. And who was clearly the leader of our team demonstrating how it's done.
Ila: Right. I think again, that points to the how critical and how important the role of the leader of the team is to help build that trust in the team. it's not a sideline role. It's not like, Hey, I'm here to support you. If you need me, like, I've got you over here. I know it's an active, intentional, engaged, committed, demonstrating behaviors.
Charles: another thing though, that I think was really important and don't know if you voiced this specifically, but high trust on high trust teams, every high trust team I've ever worked with, there is a high degree of comradery among the team members, which is again, strongly fostered and encouraged by the team leader, and also bought into by the other team members.
Charles: our team leader in that respect. Took lots of opportunities to. opportunities for us to do stuff together that wasn't necessarily work related, or if it was that we still, even though we each had a kind of our own siloed area, not totally siloed, but our own area of concern of the area that we worked on, that we were in charge of responsible for.
Charles: he made sure that we all. Had opportunities to interact together that if someone had an issue in their area, it wasn't just, okay, let's hear about it. Okay. There it is. You know, you'll go figure it out and come back and report back what you did, but rather, Hey, ELA, Charles had this, issue that he just talked about, what do you think what are your thoughts on that?
Charles: And you might have something, small thing to contribute might have a really big thing to contribute, our team leader would make sure that everybody had a little voice in this, so that we. Understood that we were not just there to report out what was going on, but Hey, what are the problems?
Charles: What are the concerns? What are the issues? each of us had some say in that, the other thing though, too, is that he made sure we had fun both in the meetings and outside of work altogether, we had, I don't know, other month or so we had, uh, movie. Or we'd get together at someone's house and bring our spouses and families and eat a meal and watch a movie and, hang out together, totally unrelated to work.
Charles: So we got to know each other in other ways, which again, in deepened the bond, we had the care that we had with each other. So that was another aspect of this. and it doesn't have to be that
Ila: mm-hmm so I'm putting a really big pin here because I think this is a really, really big topic that you and I need to talk about in the next episode is. This sense of true comradery and building connection and relationship in a way that we, can't do it the way we used to
Charles: Yes. this online virtual work from home. Sometimes I'm in the office. Sometimes I'm not it's so much more complicated right now. it makes my heart really sad sometimes to see how much people, I sense they want that, but the way that it was is no longer possible. So how Could we unpack this topic? About how, do we build this care connection comradery in this new world we're living in?
Charles: Yeah. and I wanna say that, two things. One is Nancy settle, Murphy Her whole thing is remote work, remote teams working remotely. She's been doing this way since way before the pandemic. and she really has, a lot of things to say about how to do that. Know, tips and techniques about how to do that, accessible to any team leader, any team member.
Charles: So I'm gonna put that out there. Nancy settle Murphy, you can just look her up And I'll also just remind you. so recently you and I, and some other people who are working together on a project, we have a, team it's a transient team.
Charles: It's not gonna be together for a long time. And I kind of sense that we have a pretty strong camaraderie, even though most of us have never met in person we're working over zoom. we haven't had that many meetings together and. even in that short time, and in this limited fashion, we've been able to, I think, begin to develop that sense of comradery and care for each other and what we're doing.
Ila: mm-hmm. and this isn't the only way I've seen it, I've seen it in, teams that I've worked with as well in this medium of virtual zooming and, Microsoft teaming and whatever. But I think it's clearly.
Ila: I absolutely think it is. maybe you and I have a couple of tricks, a little bit of stuff that kind of helps us get there. and this team is absolutely delightful that you've put together. I think for some people that are still they're struggling with, I don't even know where to start.
Ila: so yeah, I think it's a juicy topic. I think we should unpack that. but let's continue with strong team trust
Charles: there was a key piece in there, accountability, having to do with making, and keeping commitments to each other. And if something was not gonna work. getting back, especially to the team, but even between team members, not building up a, residue of, unmet commitments . So even though at the time, none of us had ever heard anything about the cycle of commitment, which you and I have talked about as a language and a framework for making clear, complete requests and responding and all of that. we kind of did it and, a big part of that was that, I think we did pretty well with the request side.
Charles: We certainly did well with the, response side and there was some prompting needed , but if there was something that was gonna get in the way of fulfilling, a commitment saying it not waiting until it was too late. Oh God, I'm
Charles: but the interesting thing, thinking back about that time and that team was that we actually became a model for other teams on the campus. there were other teams that wanted to come and observe our team meetings, or people from other teams, leaders of other teams who wanted to come and, get some of what we had. we became known as a highly productive team, one on which also everyone had a lot of fun.
Charles: So there were all of those pieces that we kind of talked about in terms of what made a, team, a strong high trust team. And I'll. give a lot of credit to our team leader. I don't know how intentional he was about it or, how much of it was just sort of natural to him. I've kind of lost track.
Charles: of him over the years. but I can tell you that he was a big part of that. And so was every other individual on that team. We all took responsibility for. Building and maintaining trust with each other and dealing quickly with any issues that did come up. That's another thing, not letting stuff fester. So if something did come up, we talked about it or at least the two people, if there was just two team members, maybe with the help of, the team leader, talked about it and worked through. , those are all things that I think are very important in building and maintaining high trust teams, creating a sense of safety
Charles: that psychological safety, that both comes from, and then, turns around in supports strong trust, greeting that through a, degree of vulnerability. So we were able to be open and vulnerable around making mistakes, around not knowing things, not knowing something was never seen as a fault. at least not until maybe the third or fourth time and even then it wasn't seen as his fault. It was okay. what do we need to do to change this?
Charles: learning, we were after all in, in an educational institution. So learning was a big piece and we were encouraged to constantly be learning and bringing back what we learned to the whole team. So I think I'll stop there. I think I'm kind of covering a lot of it.
Charles: I'll just summarize again, a lot of it had to do with our team leader and how he led. And a lot of it had to do with the willingness of the team members to be vulnerable and open with each other and to learn from each other and to be willing, to step up and offer what we had, not having hidden agendas.
Charles: when decisions were made, to, what's the phrase, disagree and commit. we often had conversations about issues that we needed to make decisions about. You know, we all disagree, you know, not all of us, but we had disagreements and there were one side and the other side and we went back and forth and we, really dug into it. And once a decision was made, we all committed to. unless new information came in, but there was no going around behind the back of anyone and trying to change the decision, outside of the context of the,
Ila: Mm-hmm or I'm thinking of in one of Brene Brown's dare to lead videos. She talks about the meeting after the. where, oh yeah, we've all agreed in the meeting. But the meeting after the meeting, there's people in the hallway or wherever they go to, like, that's bullshit. I'm not doing so that didn't happen.
Ila: did not
Ila: full stop, no meeting after the meeting.
Charles: Or there may have been a meeting after the meeting, but it was the context of, or the tone of the meeting after the meeting was, well, I still don't really agree with this. but help me support it because I really want to,
Charles: I guess one other thing that, going back to the meeting after the meeting, so decision making and how decisions are getting made.
Charles: one, team that I worked with where, the meeting would happen and no decision would be announced by the team leader. It was left vague, and then. People on the team would go in and meet with the leader individually and, try and convince, Hey, go my way.
Charles: Do it. This is the way we should do it. and it was usually. Quite often anyway, in that particular team, the last person to talk to the leader who got what they wanted or got 90% of what they wanted. but the decision was ultimately made by the team leader after the people who really both knew that this was the game
Charles: knew people usually didn't. So took 'em a while to figure out the game and then knew how to play it. knew how to really kind of hang in there and wait till right before the decision needed to be made and then swoop in and make a convincing argument to do it a particular way. and this, by the way, was a very low
Charles: trust team that
Charles: I'm talking about in
Ila: I'm thinking of a team that I work with currently and in their organization. It's not clear how you get promoted. And so we have VPs and senior VPs that know how to play the game. They know the things to say in order for their people to get promoted, but it's not transparent.
Ila: It's not transparent.
Ila: And so the impact, not just on the people being directly involved, but the ripple effect through the organization. how do we make decisions? This isn't clear to me. I don't understand that person got this, this person didn't, oh, this is another big trust breaking press damaging situation.
Ila: And so that clarity about how decisions are made that transparency and that I love how you said, That, Disagree and commit.
Charles: it's a good way to think about how we as a team. commit to things, make decisions and decisions are made in different ways or can be made in different ways. And they don't always, I mean, not every decision lends itself to a particular process for it. In some cases it's okay. The leader's gonna make this decision for whatever reason, but with a lot of input, Lot of input and then go off and make the decision.
Charles: in other situations it's gonna be okay, we're gonna kind of arrive at a general sense of, consensus around what we're gonna do here. And yes, there may be some disagreement, but we're all gonna commit to it anyway. there may be a vote that sometimes is the best way to make a decision, but yeah, there are different ways of making decisions, but having clarity around
Charles: yeah. Lines of authority, what are the lines of authority in this case, it's gonna be this way in this case, it's gonna be this. I'm leaving ILA in charge of making this decision. the leader can say that and make it very clear. ILA is the person who's gonna make this decision. And I want you all to line up behind her. Thank you.
Ila: yeah. all of these things we've unpacked today. Just really, for me, create such a solid foundation for a team to be able to gel. have transparency, have clarity and just do good work and absolutely have fun along the way. Cuz goodness knows if we're not having fun along the way, then I'm out.
Ila: I'm out.
Charles: You know, why bother?
Charles: Why? Yeah. And it also allows for a team to, bring in new people and, sort of enculturate them in such a way that trust is maintained. they begin to understand very quickly, okay. Here are our team agreements And how does that sit with you? And do you have any suggestions?
Charles: so, we're reviewing and at the same time, sharing that with a new person, giving that new person a real clear sense of what this team is
Charles: and how we with each other, how we are with each other. we're in this together. Let's do this together. Welcome to
Ila: the team. Right. I just feel this
Ila: worm hug come on in.
Charles: Yeah. Come on in and join
Charles: have a lot of fun and we get a lot of of Good stuff
Ila: Yeah. Ooh. And what was that word I liked from earlier and we delight our customers.
Charles: Yeah, and I've been on teams since then, that certainly were like this. but I had to experience a few that were not so much like that, along the way. And I suppose if I had never experienced a team that wasn't like that we'd be in a whole different.
Ila: yeah, we would.
Charles: well, let's bring this episode to a close. and as, we said at the beginning, this is probably part one of maybe two or three different episodes where we'll talk about different aspects of building trust on a team. in the interim, if there's something that you would like, if you would like to share your team experience with us, whether it's the experience of a high functioning high trust team, that we could take a look at and learn from, or ultimately if it's a team that's struggling and it has some trust issues and you would allow us to kind of diagnose that a little bit and see where.
Charles: Things could be changed to create stronger trust on that team. We would love to hear from you,
Charles: You can contact charles at insight
Ila: Or you can find me email@example.com,
Ila: Charles, thank you for a great conversation.
Charles: Thank you Ila. And thank you, those of you who are listening to this, we hope you're getting a lot out of this and we value your input. Take care.
Ila: See you next time.