A local sports journalist published a rant about team chemistry. He thought chemistry was overrated. He believed it resulted from winning. Bring in superstars, win some games, and the chemistry will follow.
Maybe this is true in professional sports, but it sure isn’t the case with work teams. For successful project teams or workgroups, chemistry comes first.
Think about a time when you joined a new team. You may have wanted to show your stuff, but held back. As humans, it is very difficult for us to perform well when our brains are churning on questions such as:
- Who are these people?
- What do they want of me?
- Can I trust them?
- Do they like me?
- Do I like them?
- What if I screw up?
It’s chemistry that puts these questions to rest. Do you want to create chemistry? Then you need to begin by building trust. While easier said than done, here are nine things you can do to build trust on your teams.
- Model trustworthy behaviors. The leader sets the tone.
- Seek out challenging group experiences. Overcoming obstacles pulls people together.
- Open yourself to the group. Be vulnerable. Show others how to take a risk.
- Encourage and support people to work out problems between themselves.
- Acknowledge and reward the keeping of promises. Help people recognize and value others who do what they promised.
- Focus group evaluation on ideas and behaviors, not on people.
- Demonstrate and support open and direct communication. Mention the unmentionable.
- Encourage light-heartedness in the group. Make it okay to laugh when things don’t go according to plan.
- Yield the controls to someone else. Let the team drive.
If your team lacks chemistry, it’s up to you to create some. Start slow, be patient, and put this list into play with your team. You just may create the ideal chemical reaction.
What have you found works for building trust on your teams?
Image credit: Olga.Palma