(615) 656-0465 mark@markskenny.com

Note: this is the sixth in a new series of weekly tips to build a functional, collaborative, aligned team.

Somewhere around 2012, our small team of four went out for a lovely Christmas dinner at Maggiano’s, a nice Italian restaurant in town. It was our version of a holiday party and end of year celebration. My approach was…for the team to have a nice dinner. After all, you are supposed to host a party or dinner or celebration for your team this time of year. It never occurred to me back then that this was an opportunity to further build trust on the team AND that there was a simple way to do it.

This might be the simplest tip of all: ask one or two really good questions during your team party or celebration to further build trust on the team.

I love this tip because it is simple – I will give you some question ideas below – and takes no preparation.

A little background…

Trust is the foundation to a functional, collaborative, aligned team. Trust is built on vulnerability – we are willing to be vulnerable with each other. Instead of being concerned about how other people on the team will react to what we say, we are more concerned about the team. When we have that level of vulnerability, we will be open to saying things like “I’m sorry”, “I need help”, “I am not sure that is the best idea right now”, “I am not very good at that”, “I made a mistake”, or “Here’s a crazy idea.”

One of the best ways of building vulnerability is not to go through group therapy but to simply create opportunities for team members to know each other at a little bit of a deeper level. One of the best ways for team members to know each other at a deeper level is to ask great questions and invite team members to share.

At your party, you could ask one simple opening question such as:

  • What is a hobby that you really enjoyed this year?

  • What did you enjoy doing in your free time this year?

  • What is a favorite place you visited this year?

  • What is your favorite sports team? Or musical group? Or book?

  • What was a comfort food this year?

  • Or even…share your favorite music from this year.

Of course, you could add some themed questions such as:

  • What is your favorite part about this time of year?

  • What is your least favorite part?

Now ask a second question to go just a little bit deeper, so that the team gets to know their team members at a little bit of a deeper level. For example:

  • What is it about that hobby that you really enjoy? Or how did you get started with that hobby?

  • What made that favorite place so memorable?

  • What are some reasons that is your favorite team?

  • How did it come about that is your favorite music?

  • What is it that makes that your least favorite part of this time of year?

Two questions and now you’ve used your party or celebration to build a little bit more trust on the team, without any preparation.

I suggest that you, as the leader, answer the questions first. When the leader exhibits vulnerability, it is easier for the team to exhibit vulnerability.

Never waste an opportunity to build trust on the team.

Go build a functional, collaborative, aligned team!