The more teams I work with, the more I’m convinced that team performance is directly dependent on team trust. Teams comprised of individuals who trust one another perform better. From Peyton Manning to Brad Stevens…all the best athletes and coaches understand this correlation.
How can you deepen the trust on your team? It begins with a model of communication called the Johari Window.
Each quadrant represents a different kind of communication/information:
Open: things we know about ourselves and others know about us. Information is open—back and forth.
Blind: things other people see about me, but I don’t readily see about myself. We’re familiar with blind spots when it comes to driving (not being able to see the car in the other lane despite looking in all our mirrors), but we also have those in our lives.
Hidden: things we know about ourselves but don’t tell others. This information is hidden from them.
Unknown: the reality that we will never know everything about ourselves (even at our very last breath), nor do others know everything about us
The key to building trusting relationships—whether in friendships, marriage or on a team—is making the open quadrant bigger. This happens in two ways:
- By telling teammates things about ourselves that they do not know—from our favorite color or hobbies to more personal information like our greatest fear or hardship. This moves the horizontal line between the Open and Hidden areas down, making the Open quadrant bigger in that direction.
- By asking others for feedback. We might ask them what our body language communicates or what they notice about our response to adversity. This moves the vertical line between the Open and Blind areas to the right, making the Open quadrant bigger in that direction.
Just because your team spends a lot of time together, doesn’t mean you know each other very well. Coaches and athletes learn things they never knew about each other in my workshops through simple exercises that provide time for self-disclosure and giving/receiving feedback.
If you want stronger trust on your team (what coach doesn’t?!) then you must intentionally create such opportunities for your athletes and staff to put away their phones and interact face-to-face. Teach them how to ask questions and truly listen to one another—the results will amaze you!
What are some of your favorite questions to ask others to get to know them?