Chemistry and trust are what differentiates an average team from a high-performing team.
It’s great to have a clear vision and mission and a nice set of prioritized initiatives, and you’ve got all the right people. But what starts differentiating a team from a high-performing team is chemistry and trust between the members of that team. These intangibles are some of the most critical elements of building that team, but they’re also some of the most elusive ones to build and to capture.
You need to understand it’s about personalities and shared beliefs. Make sure everyone on your team is involved in the interview process because candidates will show different sides of themselves to different people. And sometimes, those sides can be unattractive detractors from what you’re trying to build.
When I was a consultant, we were bringing in another consultant onto the team, and that person interviewed very well with the other members of the consulting staff. At the end of the interview process, we all got together in the team room, and we talked about this candidate. And all of us were very excited about hiring him. And then we stopped and we asked our front desk receptionist what she thought of him. She said, “He was incredibly rude. He spoke down to me. He acted like I didn’t matter.” That individual did not get an offer of employment from us. And he’s probably still wondering why.
To assess what people are like, you can use some standard tools out there like The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, Personalysis, and other standard evaluation tools to help people understand each others’ personalities and their styles and their preferences. Don’t just do it for candidates. Sit down and do it with the entire team. It’s not critical for people to have the same personalities; actually, it’s quite detrimental. What matters here is you have to help the members of your team understand and respect the other person’s personality and how they like to work with others. Some people may have shared experiences, or they may have a shared ethnicity or geography that they’re from. Help them find some point of commonality that they can build from.
Once you’ve figured out the chemistry of the team and you have people with the right fit, you need to start building trust between the members of that team. Trust is about shared experiences and predictability. Shared experiences show people how others perform and react during stressful situations. You may look at putting them on a big project together, where people can share in experiences and build stories together and feel like they accomplish something with one another. The impact is people start feeling like they can rely upon one another to achieve the goal. They start feeling responsible for each others’ well being and looking out for each other.
Now, the second element of trust is that predictability. I want to know how my colleague is going to react in a certain situation, because then, when they tell me they’re going to do something, and I’ve seen them behave in a manner that’s consistent with that in the past, I am much more likely to trust what they’re telling me they’re going to do. And if I understand that person’s values on top of having that predictability, well, that’s a really strong bond between me and that other member of the team, because then I really start believing what they tell me they’re going to do because it’s consistent with their beliefs and their past performance.
So, if, as a leader, you’re able to step back and look at the team and assess who’s going to be a good fit, how to get the right chemistry between the members of the team, and then get them trusting one another because they have shared experiences, and they’re predictable to one another, that team is going to gel very quickly and start functioning as a team instead of as a group of individuals.
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