Communicate towards trust

The funny thing about looking back at the progress that we have made as a team – and I have made as a leader – over the past 21 months is that you quickly realise that there have been some very good times and times that have been very challenging. Some of these good times and challenging times are caused by the work environment and some have been caused by factors away from work.

But the one thing that they all have in common is the impact on the team.

One of the things that I have noticed during that time is the impact on communication within the team whenever we go through the good days and tough days.

Communication is essential for a team to be ‘a team’. We need to be able to talk to each other. We need to be able to share information with each other. We need to be able to trust each other to admit when we are struggling – and trust that our colleagues will be there for us. We need to be able to celebrate our successes together – and trust that we will receive the credit & acknowledgement for our own & our joint work.

And what I’ve noticed is that during the tougher points that we have been through, communication can be reduced within the team to morning hello’s, evening goodbye’s, and the odd e-mail.

And I’m guilty for that too.

In this video by Susan Schuman, CEO of SYPartners, she confirmed to me something that I had always believed, but which others within my previous teams have always tried to dismiss – that when people come into work they bring the whole of them into work, including their ‘home’ them –

[scroll to about 8 minutes in]

And this is so true.

I have a lot of pressures outside of work in my personal life and they certainly come with me into work. Some days I just want to sit in my own little bubble, to sit with my headphones in, to shut the pressures of the office out, and to remove all unnecessary demands on me – like conversations over the desk.

But I know that this has a seriously detrimental effect on me and the team.

It also causes a vicious circle of me not communicating, not sharing tasks, feeling like a lone-leader, feeling under pressure, not communicating… and it goes round and round. And it makes the whole thing worse.

See, one of the things about me, and you might not believe that from the openness that I write this blog, is that I am an introvert. I like my own space. I like time on my own. I struggle to network at conferences, actually, I hate those things. So, making those conversations all day in the office can feel like a huge load of pressure on me. And when I’ve had stresses, strains and pressures at home, the last thing I want to do is add more when i get in the office.

And I know that as a leader I can’t do that.

So, over the past year I’ve been working hard on communicating with the team more – even on those tough days, actually, especially on those tough days. I’ve also started to share with the team the reasons why those days are tough, and you know what, on those days I have noticed that the team actually choose to limit those office pressures on me themselves. They also make small acts of kindness to help me.

And you know what, it makes a huge difference to my day – and to the whole team.

Another key ingredient added.

Tomorrow I’m going to finish this reflection with a look forward.

Next year promises to be an exciting year for the team. We know we have some really awesome projects to deliver that will have a real impact. We know that other colleagues are starting to benefit from some of the bits we have been working on. We have a new leadership team in place. And we have the opportunity to help develop two people at the start of their careers when they start their year long internships with us.

2017 is just around the corner and it looks like its going to be a good one…

More tomorrow.

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