One of the greatest challenges, and inhibitors, to building a high trust and engaging relationship with your team is time. And this is for two key reasons:
1. Relationships Develop Naturally
When have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you've said to yourself, "I need to build trust with this person in one month" - or something like that? Probably never. And for good reason too. Relationships evolve over time; sure they follow a set of steps in the way they develop, but there is no timeframe attached. In fact if you have ever tried to force the development of trust, or have been on the receiving end of someone trying to force the development of trust, you've probably taken longer to get there, or not gotten there at all. When we accept that leadership in a team commences in a place of Unconditional Leadership, a time in the relationship when we are responsible for building rapport and creating a deep sense of recognition in the hearts and minds of our people, we accept that each relationship will take a different course and require slightly different needs to help it develop.
2. Timeframes and Relationships Don't Mix
The minute we attach a timeframe to the idea of achieving an engaging and high trust relationship with someone is the minute we put artificial, and irrational expectations on our shoulders to achieve something that may actually be impossible to achieve. Yet organisations do this with their 18 month employee engagement survey cycles...they are effectively saying that you need to have built an engaging relationship with your team by the time a survey period starts. This can force leaders to push through the early stages of relationship development and leap straight into the high trust stage of the relationship where the expectation is that our team members will just open up and be vulnerable. But who's going to do that with someone they don't know? We don't just do that unless there is a pre-existing relationship and we feel safe enough to do this.
So, in short, if you want to develop healthy relationships with your team remove timeframes (they are really time barriers), and invest the time in establishing a rapport with each team member in ways that acknowledge who they and at what point they are starting the relationship.
Author: David Morley
David is a developer of global-minded leaders, teams and organisations.