What You Harvest From Your Team Is a Reflection of You
By CPA. Dr. David Muturi FKIM
Interacting with different organizations, I have found trust to be one big elephant in the room. We spend most of our awake time at the workplace, and even if not physically, most of our awake activities rotate around the workplace. It is therefore not very difficult to imagine the waste of energy and productivity in
an environment where there is no trust, where everyone is second guessing one other and glancing over their shoulders.
It is stressful, affects the wellbeing of employees, delays decisions and slows down everyone. This is the kind of environment where people will copy an email to people who are not necessary at the moment of the communication, making the primary recipient wonder about their intentions. Those copied will also wonder why they have to be brought into the picture at that point in time when it is clear the matter has not reached the escalation stage.
There will even be several blind copies to boot! This only creates mistrust and discomfort on the parties involved. Escalating issues is important but it should be done judiciously and for the intended purpose but not to intimidate, arm twist or create a good picture for oneself in terms of how well one works.
It will diminish trust levels. Then there will be those in the organization who will bypass the person
involved in certain issues only to tell everyone else.
It could be a supervisor unhappy with an employee about an issue, who, instead of dealing with it head-on with the person involved, will tell all the team members about the employee’s misdemeanor, but not
the person concerned. The concerned person will be getting comments like “what is it with you and your boss?” from colleagues to their utter consternation. This will only make a bad situation worse. The concerned person will feel betrayed and disregarded; it serves well to remember bad behavior breeds
You receive what you give. There will be other people who will prefer text messages and emails every time there is a message they consider unpleasant to be delivered. It is the kind of person who will observe a staff member walk in late and instead of summoning them to ask for an explanation and consider the sufficiency of the explanation before taking action, may take to a long email or text message when the staffer concerned is seated three desks away.
The affected party will raise their head in surprise looking at the direction of the source of the email or text. Possibly a very short explanation would suffice; it could even be the supervisor had forgotten
an agreed engagement like passing by a meeting. That long email or text is only a trust destroyer and serves no other purpose. The other behavior that erodes trust is taking all the credit without acknowledging others. When things go right there will be those who will hog all the credit.
They will brag how they did it, completely ignoring their team members or other departments
that worked to make it happen. This disheartens the team members and only serves to diminish the necessary trust to promote team work. Any future need for such teamwork will be met with silent
if not open hostility. Trust was lost. Sharing credit is a great way of building trust and team work. Others will act like no one else can be trusted in the organization.
They will hoard information, always skeptical of other people’s action and intentions. For them no one else means well for the organization apart from themselves. Whenever a decision is arrived at without
their involvement, they deem it wrong, incompetent and one that needs to be re-looked at. Not that they have a better alternative, but simply that for them no one else is trustworthy. They manage to create a toxic environment where no one is to be trusted.
They will often visit the dark side of the organization at every possible opportunity. They will talk about how certain issues happened, the things that went wrong and will be eager to be the first story tellers to new employees so that the can “educate” them about the organization. They are great trust destroyers. On the contrary, progressive teams and organizations that work continuously to build an environment of trust will demonstrate an honest willingness to support each other to grow.
These people will give each another an opportunity to learn and expand their knowledge and skills, and also believe in their ability. They will share information freely for the benefit of one another and by
extension, the organization. They create a culture that believes that it is in giving that you receive; you give information you receive and therefore share and grow. The tragedy of information hoarders is that they do not receive any new information because they don’t give.
Consequently, the amount of information they hoard keeps shrinking relative to the information available to those who share, and in the long run they disappear into oblivion leading to zero growth. They end up isolated from progressive trusting members. Trusting teams will respond constructively to problems, looking for a solution rather than who to blame. Problems at the workplace are inevitable. In fact, the reason you have the job is to solve problems, the absence for which you wouldn’t have a job.
When a problem or a mistake arises, the effort should not go towards who to hold accountable for
the blame. Instead, trusting teams first seek for the solution then other issues can follow. This helps the team members not to get to sit on the edge fearing to be blamed for this or the other, but instead look out for solutions and suggestions to make things better. To build a trusting environment you need open and honest communication.
Where the team members mean what they say and are effective communicators who mind their body language, the tone they use and are self-aware. It is a fact of research that when you communicate, the effectiveness of such communication is contributed by the words you use, which contribute seven percent, the tone you use which contributes thirty eight percent, and a whooping fifty five percent by the body language: the posture, gestures, facial expression, dressing and listening.
Your body language could be clearing the trust because it could be disrespectful, patronizing, and detached if not all of them. More often than not the team is reflection of the team leader; followers
will copy their leader, and needless to say, the good, the bad and the ugly is significantly contributed by the leader. What you therefore harvest from your team is possibly a reflection of you! That is why a trusting environment has the leader as the role model.
The team leader will model the behavior they want in the team. They will preach and drink wine,
they will keep their word and when not possible they will not wish it away. They will explain why it is not possible to keep their word. When the team leader models the desired behavior, others will pick it up and the known desired behavior becomes the teams’ DNA. That when you will not find team members who promise a lot and deliver little ringing down the teams’ expectation and morale.
Progressive trusting team members work on their personal competence. They understand the need to provide sound advice and direction in their areas of expertise. When your supervisor does not pay attention to improving personal competence, you lose confidence in them. You cannot risk asking for their assistance lest they mess up the situation. You lose trust in their leadership.
The team members’ cohesion is threatened by the incompetence of the team leader that is why progressive trusting teams’ leaders take time to improve their competence,they are intellectually curious and encourage intellectual curiosity leading to innovations, new ideas and creating an intellectually stimulated team. Trusting teams are all able to give each individual the benefit of doubt.
They are not on the edge by fears of being sabotaged. When team members do not trust one another, every other small mishap is perceived as an act of sabotage,much as it could be an innocent mistake or even a minor misunderstanding. The situation is blown out of proportion and it builds further mistrust. Trusting teams will seek to understand what is or could have gone wrong with the intention of making things better for everyone without dragging in unnecessary suspicion.
Trusting teams are all able to give each individual the benefit of doubt. They are not on the edge by fears of being sabotaged. When team members do not trust one another, every other small mishap is perceived as an act of sabotage, much as it could be an innocent mistake or even a minor misunderstanding.
The situation is blown out of proportion and it builds further mistrust. Trusting teams will seek to understand what is or could have gone wrong with the intention of making things better for everyone without dragging in unnecessary suspicion. Trusting team members will be masters of their body language, very much aware of the impact of the unspoken communication.
They will be deliberate with their body language to communicate what they mean and say. They will exercise emotional intelligence and self-awareness, appreciating the importance of everyone. They will be conscious of the behavior that can destroy trust at the work place and act accordingly.
Great strategies will not deliver if they are not supported by appropriate organizational culture. Any
appropriate organizational culture will bear heavy on trust. Trust promotes employees’ wellbeing. There will be few stress related matters and the pressure will be manageable. Confidence will improve retention and improve the organizational brand.
The author is a certified Business Excellence assessor with the European Foundation for quality
Management (EFQM) year 2013 and has been a speaker and facilitator in several ICPAK and IIA conferences and Workshops. He has over three hundred and fifty (350) articles published in the Daily Nation, Over one hundred (100) articles in the Management Magazine and other publications.