Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

SDI Assessment

3 Keys to Building Unbreakable Teams 

Your organization is a collection of teams. The aggregate success of the organization depends on the success of each team. And the success of each team depends on the relationships between team members. This includes relationships between the team leader and the individuals they manage, as well as the relationships between team members themselves. 

Team leaders must build strong team relationships to drive collaboration and performance and fuel the success of the organization, but they’ve always struggled to know how. 

Before the age of hybrid and remote work, some relationships between colleagues happened naturally during water cooler chats, lunch breaks, and happy hours — as well as on the clock, of course. Now, it’s more difficult than ever for managers to facilitate strong connections between team members who may never have even met in person.

But teams with struggling relationships have low productivity and difficulty retaining their top talent. That’s why it’s imperative that managers rise to the occasion and learn how to build trust, generate commitment, and drive results through relationships. The outcome will be an unbreakable team that can tackle any challenge, survive conflict, and achieve ambitious goals. 

How to build trust through relationships

Trust is the currency every team needs to create psychological safety, manage conflict, support inclusion, and empower innovative problem-solving. To build trust, managers should engage their team in a process known as recasting the past, mastering the moment, and co-creating the future.

Recast the past

Recasting the past is about challenging your previous assumptions, adding new information, and being willing to exchange perspectives. 

As a group, have the team consider and discuss:  

  • What past experiences could be getting in the way of trust?  
  • How might they see you now?  
  • What needs to happen to change the trust landscape in the relationship?

Master the moment

Mastering the moment means managing behavior, emotions, and perceptions in real time to make interactions more effective. 

Work with the team to create new experiences and memories that are built on authenticity, which will help build trust from the start and reset a relationship where trust has been broken.

Co-create the future

Co-creating the future is interacting in a way that shapes how the relationship will develop over time. The quality of today’s conversation becomes tomorrow’s past and adds another drop to the trust bucket. 

To co-create trusting relationships among team members, set aside intentional time for people to get to know each other on a genuine and deep level. This should be a regular practice, because trust and relationship-building take time. 

How to generate commitment through relationships

Commitment occurs when you make the connection between team goals and individual motives. When team objectives are tied to something that matters to each person, you’ll gain buy-in from every individual and bring the group together around a common goal. This is especially important during change — a near constant in today’s workplaces. 

The key relationships here are the ones between you and each of your direct reports. For you to communicate the goal effectively and gain buy-in from different people with different personalities and values, you need strong one-on-one relationships with everyone.  

You need to know each person’s motives, strengths, and values so you can tailor your communication style to speak to what matters to them. If it sounds like those personal details will take years to learn, you can actually get there faster by having everyone take the Core Strengths assessment and comparing results. 

Think of a test pilot for NASA’s 1961 Apollo program with a risk-taking personality and a desire to move fast. Safely traveling in space requires cautious behavior and strict attention to process. To connect the team goal (land safely on the moon) to individual motives (competitive, performance-oriented), the test pilot’s boss likely gained commitment by speaking to the pilot in terms that spoke to his motives: winning the space race. When that pilot had to do parts of his job that he found tedious, he stayed committed because he was motivated to win. 

No matter the stakes of your common goal, as the team leader, you need to translate it into several different “languages” to gain commitment from people with different values and motivations.

How to drive results through relationships

The final piece is learning to leverage the collection of strengths on the team to achieve goals. When people take the Core Strengths assessment, they’ll receive a portrait of 28 strengths, ranked in order from the ones they use most to the ones they employ least.

We believe that everyone possesses all 28 strengths and every tool in the toolbox is available to us. However, everyone chooses to deploy some strengths more frequently than others. 

Ask yourself:  

  • What strengths are on the team? 
  • Who can leverage their top strengths? 
  • Who can stretch their middle strengths? 
  • What overdone strengths (well-intended strengths, when overdone, can limit your effectiveness) should we watch out for? 

Once everyone on your team understands their own top, middle, and lower strengths and realizes that they can be agile in employing them, you can start to have conversations about which strengths are needed for which projects. 

Make sure everyone has an opportunity to use their top strengths (their superpowers) and to develop the strengths lower down in their portrait so they get the satisfaction of personal growth. This will foster an environment of engagement that drives innovation and results. 

Build unbreakable teams with Core Strengths

Unbreakable teams start with trust. If the team doesn’t have trust, the environment will be toxic and people will be disengaged. If the team has trust but no commitment, it won’t make any progress. Once the team has commitment, the manager still has to skillfully leverage the collective strengths of the team to drive results. 

Unbreakable teams are made up of people who trust each other, who are all committed to the shared goal, and who are using the right strengths to drive results. Unbreakable teams power organizational success. Unbreakable teams are built on relationships. 

Core Strengths can help you build unbreakable teams.