Sarah was frustrated.

She had noticed that her team members often seemed dismissive about the importance of her work. Why are they not interested in my work? Does what I do not matter?

Sarah felt angry, defensive and helpless, which made things even worse. Subsequently she didn’t want to work with them and started to avoid them, which impacted communication and team spirit even further. The disconnect between her and most of her colleagues grew.

In reality, the perceived disinterest was a result of the team members not really knowing each other, hence not connecting, rather than them being intentionally dismissive. People were busy doing their own thing rather than ignoring her. But Sarah didn’t see that connection.

Ultimately the whole situation affected one of their clients, who didn’t get a promised report on time, as communication had broken down between the colleagues.  The client complained about the breech of contract this entailed and a penalty clause kicked in which meant the client didn’t have to pay. This didn’t improve the team spirit, but instead triggered an unproductive, finger-pointing blame game.

There was a clear impact on the bottom line from the lack of trust.

What this short story highlights is that team spirit and trust are often eroded, or never created in the first place, unless team members know each other, connect and value each other, and can clearly see that they have a shared purpose to fulfil.

And in this case, there’s also a link between the lack of trust and the bottom line (the penalty clause). And the lack of cooperation means it takes longer to get the work done which affects productivity which in turn affects costs. AND let’s not forget that when trust is low, loyalty is low too, leading to higher employee turnover, which leads to more costs.

Building a great team starts by spending time together, investing the time it takes to get to know and trust each other – and then explore how to achieve the shared purpose – together.

“Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” 

Patrick Lenioni