Trust is important. Some give it freely but for others it must be earnt - and who we choose to place it in and why can be revealing about a person.
But while the level of trust you have in a colleague would not typically be comparable to that of a close friend or family member it is still a vital part of being an effective team that will work together and not in spite of each other.
WE ALL HAVE FEARS
One effective method of creating trust with our colleagues and breaking down the barriers we are all sometimes guilty of building is through the sharing of experiences.
In the vein of other ‘getting-to-know-you’ type icebreakers, by sharing a piece of information as personal as what we are, or were, afraid of we humanise ourselves to each other - by helping create a better understanding of who we are and establish a commonality in our behaviour.
WHAT IS SCARY
The task itself is simple; after a moment to consider the question each person in turn shares their experience of the time they were the most scared, and explains why and if it changed anything about them.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific event in the person’s life, it could be an ongoing fear that they are still very much afraid of. It’s up to the facilitator to decide if they want to specify or leave it open to the individual to choose - although it is worth considering that those who may never have experienced an event that could be described as ‘scary’ would find a secondary option to fall back on useful.
Some individuals may opt to give answers like ‘fear of failing’, and while this is a valid answer if true, the purpose behind the exercise is to find out about the individual - not look good in front of the boss.
Further questions could be asked to delve more into such answers - but be aware of putting the participant on the defensive. It may simply be easier to begin with an example and discourage participants from giving those types of answers – again, it’s up to the facilitator to decide how deep they wish to dig.
THE MONKEY ON YOUR BACK
One of the biggest benefits of putting effort into building trust within teams is it leads directly into the creation of something called vulnerability-based trust which is a very desirable trait for a team to have.
What this actually represents is a shift in a team’s attitudes to tasks. From being overly concerned with how they are being perceived by their colleagues, and avoiding risks for fear of failing in front of them, they instead focus on working with each other to carry out their tasks to the best of their ability - regardless of whether what they propose or do ultimately doesn’t succeed.
With their weaknesses and fears exposed they no longer have to be concerned about what others could possibly think of them – it’s already happened, and hopefully in a positive way. This then saves large amounts of time and effort as it is no longer being wasted by individuals covering their own backs and is instead channelled into their work.
Once egos are put side individuals become more receptive to learning and development, and as the team will be experiencing this process together they should help to bring the best out in each other - and not view those needing help with disdain.
Over time each member of the team gains a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses enabling them to focus on aspects of their job they are strongest in and improve the areas they are not.
Want to learn more about the benefits of icebreaker events? Find out about Living Histories.