I was asked this question the other day:
“How do you build and maintain a strong team for your business?”
And here was my short answer:
“Build a relationship of trust and reciprocity between leadership and teams, and you will see enhancements in performance and accountability”… And then we discussed where to start because there’s no magic wand for these things. Really, there’s no magic wand for anything in business.
The ONE thing you need to know that will shape high-performing teams and a organization that grows faster and easier is that THERE IS NO ONE THING. There is not just one area to focus or one system to enhance that will improve an organization and make it run smoother, or grow faster, or remove the headaches. That’s a magic wand or super pill approach. And the truth is that a combination of all the right things will produce the results you are looking for.
Secretly I bet you already knew that, it’s just a bummer to admit sometimes. And because I know it hurts, I’d like to give you a place to start that will have an impact on multiple areas.
Trust is a great place to start. If it doesn’t already exist, it takes time to grow. But trust is important throughout many areas of a business, so this gives you opportunities to make improvements in more than one place at a time, while maintaining a key focus during the process (building trust).
An area that can provide opportunities to build mutual trust is in delegation and accountability strategies. Leadership needs to trust their team to do things well and in the right way, and teams need to trust that their leaders and managers have their back and will give them what they need to be successful.
Sounds simple right? Well I can almost guarantee that you’ve tried delegating before and it probably didn’t go well. You may have had the best intentions in your head, as described above, but it did not result that way. So let’s flip it because sometimes it is easier to identify something by what it is not.
Here’s a true story of delegation-gone-wild that perpetuates an environment of mistrust.
- A person in leadership hands off a task in a few short sentences either written or verbal. The employee said they’ve done things like this before, so they should be good to go, right?
- The employee gets started with the task moving forward with the information they have. And then they hit a point that brings up a few questions. The employee doesn’t want to seem incompetent or interrupt their busy boss, so they make a decision they think is best. At the end of the task the employee moves onto the next thing on their own to-do list for the day.
- Later, the leader comes back irritated that the task has not been completed because they are waiting on it. Then they find that it was done hours ago but the employee never told them. And they see that the task is missing a few key components, so is actually still not finished.
- The employee doesn’t understand what is wrong, they did what they were told to do. The leader feels disappointed and frustrated that they have to go finish it up themselves when they don’t have the time.
Sound similar or familiar to something you’ve seen or done?
Not to worry there’s a better way. It’s complex but it’s not complicated.
First, let’s recognize that people can’t meet expectations that only live in your head. I have also heard “disappointment occurs in the space between expectation and reality.”
Most of the time, your teams are doing their best with the resources they have. They are utilizing an accumulation of life experiences, skill, and knowledge to make decisions and do their work.
In order to close the gap between expectation and reality, provide clear expectations and build on a relationship of reciprocity. They support you and the organization in achieving its goals, and you provide them with the resources they need to be successful.
This allows trust to build and growth to become a company-wide responsibility, not just one that seems to live at the top.
So here’s a delegation and accountability formula that brings it all together
- The person in leadership needs to clearly and thoroughly communicate requirements and expectations. What information do they need to know, what outcomes are needed, and what permissions do they or do they not have?
- This allows the team to confidently move forward, know when to make decisions or ask questions, understand when to relay information, and deliver results successfully.
- In turn, leadership trusts the team because they saw success (their needs and expectations were met), and the team trusts leadership because they don’t feel gaslighted (as though they were told one thing at the start, but in the end it wasn’t good enough).
This is a relationship of reciprocity. It is trust build through effective delegation and accountability strategies. It is just one of the things that will help you shape high-performing teams and an EXCELerated organization.
QUESTION > What is one pain point that you can imagine being relieved if there was more reciprocity and trust?