BY NAVEEN GATTU
From the Leaders’ Desks
“The best way to learn if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
In the last 6 years of my journey with Gramener, I’ve spoken about Fun, Innovation & Trust (FIT) as the fundamental pillars of Gramener to more than 500 onboarded and potential onboardees of Gramener. I have also echoed with most of them the equally important principle – “we don’t need super heroes, we need team players”.
TRUST & TEAM WORK can have a profound impact in a startup, or for that matter any enterprise. They are almost inseparable, and create a great multiplier effect in an organization’s journey.
I have been personally involved in 2 other ventures prior to Gramener. One failed and one almost missed failure. I’m not a great RISK taker individually, but my appetite for risk multiplies when I have a team supporting me always. As you might expect, my 2 other ventures also had great teams.
I looked back and analyzed why we were not successful in spite of having a great team – We did not work as ONE TEAM & we lacked collective TRUST. All of us were in the same flight, but one was thinking of going to Australia and the other was thinking Canada. Your destination cannot be different when you have on boarded a flight. You’re bound to fail at some point of time.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford
No matter how smart, talented or passionate you are, your success as an entrepreneur or leader depends on your ability to build a great team. Great teams are built on the foundation of trust.
Reading Stephen Covey’s ‘Speed of Trust’ left a great impression on me. Stephen Covey summarizes;
“Credibility boils down to two simple questions. First, do I trust myself? Second, am I someone who others can trust? Four “Cores” that are key to building credibility. The Four Cores are:
- Capabilities, and
Integrity and Intent are character cores. Capabilities and Results are competency cores.
All Four Cores are necessary for credibility. A person of integrity that does not produce results is not credible. If you are not credible, you are not trustworthy!”
As business leaders, it’s very important for us to be credible and to create an environment built on trust and that fosters teamwork.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard
When a team operates in complete trust, it produces more than 100% of each individual. They are empowered, confident of their peers, not afraid to take risks – and collectively it has a multiplier effect. Trust allows you to delegate a task without worrying about whether it will get done. It allows for faster, more open communication, and gives people a sense that they truly belong within your organization.
In all teams, trust will be built and trust will be broken. Trust is driven by relationships and that too human relationships – ego, personalities, priorities, fears, excitement drive and influence. Trust is especially vulnerable during periods of rapid growth or change, or when the team is virtual.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
Successful organizations have great leaders who unleash the power of teamwork. These leaders create a sense of ownership, driven by common purpose, unearth the strengths of teams and this results in each team member contributing more than 100% towards a collective objective. This is a multiplier effect practised successfully by most leaders and this is possible by creating a mutual TRUST environment as part of teams.
TRUST of Communication: Watch out for these in highly successful teams;
- Information is exchanged amongst the teams openly
- Truth is spoken without inhibition; I’m not searching for words to express with peers or managers
- Mistakes are admitted without any fear, leverage them to avoid in future
- Give and receive constructive feedback
- In team meetings, you see wider participation than monologues or instructions
- Active debates in solving problem, opinions are well received
- Maintain confidentiality
- Speak with positive spirit
- Pro-active suggestions to improve the environment rather than waiting to be driven by one person
Pay attention to non-verbal communication. If you see a colleague withdrawn and not responding in his usual style, less participative in the discussions, do take an extra step to talk to him in an open manner to understand the concerns. Show transparency and genuine intent to solve the problem.
Conversely, when the crucial element of trust is compromised, people become withdrawn and disengaged. Their confidence in themselves and in others erodes, along with their commitment to their work and their organization. They wonder, “Do I belong here?”. Confidence is overshadowed by doubt: “Do I have what it takes?”. Commitment dwindles: “Is this the place for me?”.
We want people to come to work and bring their whole selves to work. We want to create a work environment where people want to show up and want to work, and this takes TRUST.
How can we foster TRUST in the environment? It’s not an easy task and needs to be practised diligently;
- Develop People Skills. It’s our personality that instils trust.
- Schedule time to build relationships. Do interact with peers in a regular fashion. If you see irritants, please take the first steps to talk and resolve. Don’t let your ego stop you from making the first move.
- Manage your Boundaries. There is a thin line between professional and personal relationship. Try to balance the same always.
- Appreciate others. Up, down, and across the organizational structure.
- Openness. Provide as much information as you can comfortably divulge, as soon as possible in any situation.
- Patience. You cannot let go of your emotions in your interactions. Once you show discontent and immaturity, it’s hard to build trust. Be patient in all situations.
- Mutual Feedback. Do seek feedback always, and be ready to accept change in your behavior. Likewise, do give constructive feedback to your team.
- Ongoing Team exercises. As a leader, do ensure you have as many team exercises (formal/informal) as possible as they are appropriate forums for teams to build relationship and have healthy debates.
“Trust is not a matter of technique, tricks, or tools but of character”.
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
– Stephen R. Covey
TRUST is built and maintained by many small actions over time. We can build trusting relationships and a culture of trust in our workplace. Trust is fragile but strengthens over time.
It is the relationships we forge—and the trust we create—that matters most to our success at the end of the day.