This article is the fourth installment in our High-Impact Team Series. If you would like to read all installments of the series, click here.
Trust is the foundation of great execution. Per Stephen Covey, without it, every communication, interaction, strategy, and decision carries a hidden tax, compounding the cost and time it takes to get things done. An environment of trust, on the other hand, is a performance multiplier, one that can turn your team into an executing machine.
In our best relationships, we know each other’s motivations and priorities. We are open about our strengths and challenges; we know we can count on one another when we need help. We acknowledge our mutual humanity by forgiving each other’s mistakes and not placing blame, and we work together to make things better. We trust each other.
While this kind of relationship can take years to develop, you can open the channels of trust with a simple tool: The Big Picture Meeting. Remember the saying, “I’m a great cook when given a recipe by a great chef"? The Big Picture Meeting "recipe" is inspired by a little book called, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Make sure that all of your team members have completed a profile assessment — then, take the template, edit it to fit your situation, and distribute it a few days in advance of your Big Picture Meeting.
Using the tool, your team can:
Get to know each other’s motivations and priorities.
Acknowledge and recognize team strengths and challenges.
Find ways to collaborate and grow.
Let's unpack some of these results a bit further:
Motivations and Priorities
Once you get to know a person's drivers, you can collaborate more effectively. The Big Picture encourages envisioning and sharing what makes work meaningful, and what kind of growth each team member wants to experience.
Strengths and Challenges
The template assumes you’re using the Kolbe and StrengthsFinder frameworks, but you can substitute with any assessment you’re already using. By sharing their modi operandi, their talents, and the areas in which they’re challenged, the tool allows team members to get better insight into the talents of their peers and to discuss how they can overcome challenges together.
Collaboration and Growth
For some of us, asking for help is a challenge itself! If you can relate to this struggle, try to lead with this question: “What can my teammates do to help me do my work better?” This makes the undertaking more about improvement, and with the profile assessments above, coupled with discussions about individual goals and how they tie in with other team members' goals, you will provide opportunities for your team to find ways to collaborate. This is easier if everyone has a scorecard like The Team Success Navigator. All the outcomes should tie together and make it obvious that when one team member wins, everyone wins.
As a team leader, this is also a great opportunity to take the team’s engagement temperature, even if you've already started weekly one-on-one meetings. Are your team members enthusiastic about their roles, or do they downplay their importance? Can they articulate how their roles tie into the firm’s mission, or do they have a hard time articulating their relevance? Do they appear open to their colleagues? Are they open about where they need to improve? One advisor I spoke to realized his team had no real understanding of the client experience! Revelations like this might be unpleasant, but at least you’ll know where you need to focus your time going forward.
Being open in a group, where not everyone is close, can be a challenge. So, use your Big Picture Meeting as an opportunity to break the ice: Show some vulnerability and start the session by talking about you. Set an example for the kind of environment you want to see.
How well do your team members know each other? Do you work in an environment where being candid is encouraged? Let me know your thoughts!