My family and I were sitting in the backyard last week, enjoying a relaxing summer dinner, when we heard a loud cracking sound and booming thud. We turned to the side yard and found that a 30-foot ash tree had come crashing down. It now lay across our lawn, trunk and branches scattered and strewn. We hadn’t seen it coming.
Upon inspection, we discovered the previously hidden danger: termites had been surreptitiously eating away at the foundation of this seemingly strong and healthy tree, destroying it from within. Eventually, the damage was too much to sustain.
Hidden dangers exist in organizations, too. One of the biggest threats is a lack of trust. If unrecognized and untreated, mistrust will silently eat away at the health and productivity of your organization.
In my work with executive teams, I find that fixing the trust issue leads to improved business results, fewer errors, enhanced retention of top talent and accelerated innovation. So ask yourself: Does my team have the kind of trust that leads to top results? Think about it, and be honest with yourself. Consider the following signs that your team has a trust problem:
- There is a lack of information sharing. Your people aren’t proactively bringing important information to one another. Gaps in knowledge and unwelcome surprises are the norm.
- There is a lack of debate. Ideas aren’t actively discussed or challenged. Decisions may be superficially accepted but then passively resisted.
- There is an excess of niceness. Politeness prevails and direct communication is hard to come by. Disagreements and frustrations are kept in rather than openly addressed.
- There is a paucity of collaboration. People remain in their functional silos. They refrain from reaching out to their colleagues to identify mutual goals or drive to collective success.
- There is a lack of overt vulnerability. Your team doesn’t freely express concerns with one another. There is a reticence to reveal weakness or ask for help.
Teams that operate without sufficient trust fall short of their full potential. They fail to deliver top results. They slowly but surely erode from within.
As a leader, it’s incumbent upon you to recognize and call out trust issues within your organization. Be direct with your team. Talk openly about your concerns. Tell the team you see an issue with trust and ask whether they see it too.
Work together to discern the reasons trust is lacking. Solicit solutions. Consistently model what you’d like to see. And be sure to hold your team accountable for the kind of behavior that drives trust and builds a robust foundation for growth.