Can I trust you?

So many spoken and unspoken dimensions impact trust. How well do I know you? Can I trust your intentions? Do you understand and value me for what I can bring to this team? How do I know you’ll do what you said you’ll do? Can I set reasonable expectations? What happens when we fail? 

I made a trip to Miami last week to work with a client’s newly appointed leadership team. They are a rapidly growing organization experiencing a lot of change with a mix of onsite and remote team members to boot.  They want to be more intentional about how they build trust with each other and their clients. 

We began by unpacking their joint mission.  The remainder of our time was spent on the trust-accountability loop which is critical for their team as well as client success. Given humans learn best through experience, the 2 day workshop included opportunities to learn from two local Miami organizations: Coffea School and the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center.

We looked to the Coffea School for inspiration on trust, and they definitely delivered. The supply chain of sustainable speciality coffee all relies upon trust. The promises of the farmer, the roaster and the distributor combined with the proof in that first perfect cup made from their beans builds trust in their methods and the overall brand. Similarly, each commitment we deliver upon to a colleague or client builds our personal brand. Healthy teams ask for help as well as understand that sometimes deadlines need to shift based on unforseen events. Repeatedly breaking  commitments and promises produces a bitter cup of coffee.

Our second source of inspiration came from Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center. Sant La serves as a “trust bridge” between Miami’s Haitian refugee population and the organizations that can provide services often needed for in a refugee’s new life. Similar to a newly forming leadership team, it can be difficult to trust individuals you don’t know- especially if you are in a new and unfamiliar place. It’s hard to ask for help when you need it. Sant La invites the Haitian community in, celebrating their common history and background while also building trust. Building on this initial foundation of trust, they work to understand the highest priority needs for each new neighbor and introduce them to the right community organization. They can vouch for them given they have had proven success in the past. Success together builds trust.

Moving beyond the talk to the action is the hardest part when making any change, but the team left committed to their new ‘team norms’ and will continue learning beyond the workshop. They have incorporated a ‘norms check’ into their weekly team meeting agenda and we’re going to be diving in to a few good books together using a virtual book club format to explore the nuances they are each experiencing in improving trust: Authenticity in purpose, Fierce Conversations and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Have you experienced trust or accountability challenges with your organization or team? Let me know what’s worked for you in the comments or message me directly.

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