Leaders responsible for teams must cast a solid vision to define the purpose for their team. Your team needs to know why the team exists. Every good purpose needs a plan. How are we going to execute the vision we just agreed to pursue? Purpose and plan are critical parts of building team trust.
Leaders who have great vision need to translate the vision into a plan; an action plan. You can pull your team together to create the plan. That’s perfectly fine. But plan you must.
The plan helps map out the next steps, milestones, contingencies, and a host of other critical factors that cause your likelihood of success to rise. As the old saying goes, without a plan any road will get you there. You probably don’t want to travel some of those roads. That is why a plan helps.
In the Team Trust Model, Step #3 is the Plan.
The questions your team members and employees may be asking about the plan include the following examples.
What are the steps to achieve results?
What does a ‘win’ look like?
Can I agree with what you think we’ll be doing to go from A to B to C?
Does the plan make sense to me?
Does anyone else think this plan is crazy?
Is there something we already know about a step in the plan that won’t work?
How can I comment on the plan?
Do you want my feedback?
A Story from the Field
During a coaching session on team trust, one client who was responsible for a large regional sales organization spoke about his plan. It involved a cradle-to-grave process for their sales cycle. The plan started with prospecting and funnel management, then went into client onboarding and order entry. Ultimately the plan ended with various aspects of client support and service obligations assigned to the originating salespeople.
After thinking about it, he said “Wow, I really should be doing more to look at this plan when I’m hiring people. I generally look for personality but having folks who can serve these other needs is very important too.”
There’s another reason to have a well-articulated plan.
The plan gives you the path to get work done. You deliver on the plan. You work through the plan. Without a clear blueprint for success, your team will get stuck wondering what to do next.
Doing the Right Thing
There is one thing I’ve learned in all my years of executive leadership, it’s about the people. Assuming your hiring process is reasonably reliable i.e. identifying good talent suitable for what you need to do, then the team you build will want to do the right thing.
If you as a leader don’t show them what the right thing is, they freeze. Because they want to do the right thing, they definitely don’t want to do the wrong thing. Therefore they tread water, running in place not doing much of anything.
Your plan helps them understand the next steps that amount to the right thing to do. Then they can become effective at the work.
There is obviously a lot more you have to do managing the effort, but without clear definitions of what a win looks like and what success can mean, your team will struggle to move forward.
The more you can do to articulate the right plan for the work you need to be done, the better your chances of having a team that can trust the plan and is willing to commit their dedicated effort to get there. This is the way to build team trust.