Driving Honesty and Safety in Teams

Posted & filed under Blog, Top Team Effectiveness.

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth loving.” James E Faust

The challenge

A few months ago I was working with a senior team who had been through a buy-out, a restructure and redundancies all within 9 months. Now that things had begun to stabilise the team knew they had to do things differently. The new vision had higher expectations of performance, more focus on monitoring and measuring how things were being done as well as what was achieved. The challenge for the new team was how to hit these targets given

a) the new expectations were far more ambitious than anything they had achieved before
b) they were still learning about each other
c) many in the organisation who they were relying on for the throughput were still recovering from the process of redundancy which had seen many of their long-term colleagues leave and many of their roles changed.

In this dynamic and competitive age, these challenges are not unusual – although all 3 at the same time on the back of already significant change was disconcerting and unsettling.

The business leaders knew working harder was not an option. The top team and supporting teams were not slackers. The fact they had survived the restructure was testimony to the skill set, attitude and resilience of each leader. And yet, doing more of the same would not cut it.

The benefits

It’s a situation I’ve seen before. The key to their success was not in working harder, but in working smarter through strengthening honesty with each other and the business. And this is how to achieve it:

Start by owning and grading the level of honesty you have with your team, your boss and your peers

Understand what competes with you not being even more honest

Promote safety alongside honest dialogue to ensure people feel safe and protected to take risks to say what needs to be said without reprisal

Discharge but don’t discard how you feel

Use a structure that strengthens value rich dialogue resulting in new agreements and improved rapport/respect

Take a look at how things work within your team and your business

How would you rate the level of honest conversations you have right now? How safe does it feel to say what you need to in order to make things better?

What gets in the way of deeper, more honest conversations?

What could you achieve personally and collectively if you could make this happen?


Author: Helga Davies, Influencing and Impact Specialist

Helga is sought out by many of our clients for her enviable reputation for strengthening leaders’ ability to influence and impact. She coaches senior leaders and top teams in large organisations facing rapid change, complexity and ambiguity.

With over 20 years of coaching experience, Helgas has built a strong reputation for supporting senior managers to improve business results. She coaches senior executives towards high performance and strategic influencing to build and sustain collaborative working relationships.

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