How can teams demonstrate competence?

May 05 2015 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

As we've discussed before, there are three components to building trust on a team: common goals (are you all rowing in the same direction?), proof of competence (is everyone good at their jobs so I can focus on my own work and trust them to do theirs?), and proof of motives (do I really believe everyone is doing their best and has the team's best interests at heart?). Let's take a look at the second one today, competence.

Even if your team is filled with very talented people, do they all know that? Before you answer, stop and think about this. As a leader, you work hard to have good relationships with each individual member of the team. But how are the relationships between the team members themselves? Do you find yourself being the hub of all communication? Do groups or individuals in your team seem to lack faith in the abilities of others?

Here are some simple (not easy, I grant you) ways to help your team learn what you already know - that you have very talented people to draw from.

Regularly share successes and small wins: many managers work hard to remember to recognize good work from individuals, but they don't always share that with the rest of the team. If the team in Dallas has done spectacular work, shouldn't everyone know about it? Tell everyone about the problem Bob in Geneva solved for you when no one else could. Everyone might not have known Bob, but they sure do now.

Intentionally create cross-function workgroups: look for reasons to have team members who don't know each other (or who are demonstrating a lack of trust and need a little reinforcement) work on simple projects that require lots of communication but are easily accomplished. Working together to meet a deadline will help rebuild the trust that a missed milestone earlier dented.

Help everyone understand each others' work environments: Very often, those who work in the central office, or at least in larger offices don't understand what it's like in other locations or for those who work at home.(Co-incidentally, many of those who work remotely don't understand the myriad complications and distractions of trying to work in Headquarters, either).

Does your team know what everyone's normal working conditions are? Sometimes understanding breeds forgiveness (or at least tolerance).

Does everyone know everyone's action items and metrics? : One sure way to prevent misunderstandings is for milestones, metrics, and criteria to be understood by everyone. Posting action items, with success criteria, after meetings, or having project timelines and status available on a shared team site helps keep people accountable for their success, and prevents dark muttering when people don't really understand what's going on. Celebrate success as often as you announce problems.

Showcase individuals who might not otherwise get attention: If people don't see each other hard at work, look for ways to demonstrate their talents to each other. Try rotating the leadership of your team's calls or web meetings. At the very least, showcase one group or individual as part of your team meetings. The chance to shine doesn't always emerge organically, and some of your best workers may be too modest to promote themselves.

These are simple concepts, but often get ignored in the busy-ness of day to day work. As a leader it's your job to help create the conditions under which your team can build the trust and solid working relationships that drive success.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.