Trust is the single most critical component of teamwork. In the absence of trust in owners, leaders and colleagues, members of the “dream” (versus team) are looking over their shoulder and subsequently handicapped in their ability to focus on their assigned task. Building trust is the first answer to how we convert a “dream” into a team that optimizes productivity and creates the Success Margin®.
Just as each family has a unique suite of cultural characteristics, each member of a group aspiring to become a team (family members, managers and employees) has a unique set of personality characteristics. Among those inherent individual personality characteristics are trust, skepticism and distrust. The focal challenge of converting the dream to a team is development of interdependence. This interdependence will enable team members to fulfill their assigned roles, provide motivation to help others and generate confidence that owners, leaders and colleagues are fulfilling expectations that are critical to the achievement of the group goal.
The second step to building family business teamwork is to understand who you are dealing with. Some people have natural trust or faith that others will fulfill expressed expectations. These trusting persons can quickly make commitments to the group cause; they give others the benefit of the doubt and are very comfortable in interdependent relationships due to their instinctive understanding that their needs and goals can best be achieved through collaboration. Affirmation and recognition of these natural team players is very important to the achievement and maintenance of team synergy. Repetitive disappointments regarding trust take a heavy toll on their energy and will ultimately lead them to change to an environment that supports their inherent belief that people are trustworthy. Unfortunately, naturally trusting team candidates are rare.
The focus of the family business synergy challenge is the skeptics who represent the vast majority of the team candidates. They say they are players but really don’t trust that others are watching their backs. Skeptics can even talk them “team talk”, but instinctively, they believe in survival of the fittest. They are concerned about vulnerability and hold back total commitment. Many skeptics were previously trusting team members who based upon disappointments have been converted to believing that the secret to survival is playing the team game while looking out for number one. Skeptics are alert to opportunities to advance their personal priorities even at the well disguised expense of others. The credo of the skeptic is success by survival. The conversion or culling of the skeptics ultimately determines the success of the team.
The final team candidate is the untrusting who is incompatible to serving as an integral member of a family business team. We’ll further examine this group and determine the last answer to how to build a family business team in the last part of this series, 4 Steps for Building Family Business Synergy - Changing "Dreawork" into Teamwork, Part 2"
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.