16TH AGILE MONTH Agile Month Spring 2023

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Trust is the foundation of real Teamwork

Author: Vladimir Kelava

It’s only natural that we trust the people who are close to us, but the ramifications of this go far beyond our personal life. In business, too, trust is the cornerstone of successful collaboration, which is why teams need to actively work on building bonds based on trust, openness, and empathy if they want to achieve top results. In some teams, sharing and bonding happens spontaneously, but other teams may need help and facilitation to establish relationships of trust. At work, people should get closer to others to better understand what is going on, and decreasing the distance might also help increase communication and creativity. If you want to better understand people you work with, Personal Maps popular Management 3.0 practice can come in useful, and they can also help teams get to know each other better and forge deep bonds based on mutual trust, openness and empathy.

Trust is the foundation of real teamwork.

In his 2002 book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” Patrick Lencioni wrote the following:

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible. Unfortunately, the word trust is used—and misused— so often that it has lost some of its impact and begins to sound like motherhood and apple pie. That is why it is important to be very specific about what is meant by trust. In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. This description stands in contrast to a more standard definition of trust, one that centers around the ability to predict a person’s behavior based on past experience. For instance, one might “trust” that a given teammate will produce high-quality work because he has always done so in the past

Building Trust with Personal Maps

A while ago, I had a chance to work with one team in order to help them grow and develop as a team. After a relatively short time of daily observation and interaction, I realized that they did not manage to develop true trust and were often unwilling to admit that some aspects of work were not going in the right direction. On top of that, they would quickly come to conflicts that would last very briefly, followed by a hiatus and a superficial sense of artificial harmony. For me, this was a sign that they weren’t able to handle a constructive debate, which prevented them from dealing with conflicts adequately. Mutual trust and vulnerability in front of others were lacking, which are normally built by allowing the team to learn more about each other and establish a sense of empathy.

At the end of one sprint, I invited people to an informal get-together I named “Sweets and Learn”. I put sweets on the table and right at the start, I told them that I had been with them for a while but that I felt the need to present myself to them properly. I shared my Personal Map with them (leading by example) and I asked them if they wanted to make their own maps. There were volunteers and they encouraged others to make their own maps too and share them with the other team members. What was amazing to me was the fact that the people had been working together for months but they didn’t know some basic things about each other. By making Personal Maps, they had an opportunity to learn more about each other, which in turn encouraged active communication. They found out that they have shared interests and they started to develop a relationship of empathy, which largely changed the team dynamics, which came to light during the second get-together already. Sharing the Personal Map with team members was the first step towards building mutual trust in that team.

The “Sweets and Learn” session produced a few major takeaways for me as the facilitator, and one of them is that people will bond with greater ease if provided the opportunity and tools to do so. Let’s face it: there’s much more to work than just work, but if people are not encouraged to bond and open up, they will hardly step out of their comfort zone. By creating room for bonding, the facilitator can considerably improve the functioning of a team as a whole as the newly-forged ties will allow for smoother collaboration and increased levels of understanding and trust among individual team members.

Learn more about it at Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop.

To delegate or not to delegate? That is not a question

There is no doubt that delegating is necessary.

To delegate is context dependent, and it is not a binary thing. The art of management is finding the right balance by considering the context and team maturity. Managers must never forget that empowerment is a skill to be learned and that every empowerment activity is an investment that requires patience. As time goes by, the team will grow, and the boundaries will be able to go wider and wider, and the authority level will go higher and higher. According to recent research, greater success is achieved by those organizations that give autonomy to their employees, accept self-organization as the way of functioning and create an environment in which they get true employee engagement. Today, we can often hear that we live in a V.U.C.A world and that the only way to survive in such an environment is to create fluid systems of distributed authority and collective intelligence. So, we can freely say that empowered organizations are not a matter of choice, but a matter of survival.
Empowered organizations are more resilient and agile. The traditional management and leadership approach does not fit into this kind of environment. In order to cope with the challenges of the V.U.C.A world, we need to make a paradigm shift when it comes to management. You can find more on this topic in the blog post – Organizations as complex adaptive system.

All organizations are complex adaptive systems

No matter what the organizational chart looks like, at the end of the day all organizations are complex adaptive systems. That’s why the complexity theory is good news for managers because it offers them a new scientific way of looking at complex systems. Research shows that such systems often work best when control is distributed, and authority is pushed to all corners of the organizational network (as much as possible) so that everyone can make decisions where they have the best available local information. With a complex adaptive system there is no such thing as central control. Distributed control is the only way to manage them. There is no other option. By distributing control, we also improve system efficiency, resilience, and chances of survival.

Empowerment requires delegating decisions

What scientists call distributed control in the world of management we usually call empowerment. Empowerment requires delegating decisions. But delegation is not always easy, and managers often fear a loss of control when teams take over decision-making. In addition, it is often the case that team members are not comfortable taking control because they have no idea how to take responsibility. Therefore, in order to feel safe (in both cases), we need to give people a sense that they have some control over their situation. Managers must find a way to hand over responsibilities to their team in a controlled manner. They cannot just throw everything at the team; they need to do it in gradual way and to make it perfectly clear where the boundaries are and what the team authority level is. It is great to delegate as much as possible to increase empowerment of the system. But if you go too far, it could lead to an undesirable and costly outcome. Managers need to find out how much they can delegate, and that depends on the maturity of the team and the impact of decisions on the organization.

Delegation Poker

Management 3.0 is offering seven levels of delegation which can be beneficial to any person wanting to delegate work to someone else. By combining seven levels of delegation with other popular Management 3.0 practice – Delegation Board and Delegation Poker – the person wanting to delegate work to someone else can make it perfectly clear where the boundaries are and what the authority level is. A delegation board enables the management to clarify delegation and foster empowerment for both the management and workers.

Join us at the Management 3.0 Foundation workshop if you want to learn more about the seven levels of delegation. You will also get a chance to hear and learn what lies behind Delegation Board and Delegation Poker, popular Management 3.0 practices