Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has authored eight books, including The Art & Science of Coaching trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
The Art of Building Team Trust
In Erickson’s High Performance Team Coaching course, we emphasize the value of building team trust. What follows is called the RIDART framework, an effective team trust framework we use within team coaching.
RIDART is a simple acronym for the six key steps in building trust. These steps include:
R – Rapport
Rapport from the French, Rapoarté: “To bring back to another an experience of themselves.” As a team, we discover we can think, root for, and be ourselves with each other and feel supported in the process. Rapport often starts with our respect and listening to each of the team’s players. It continues as we create engagement and relaxed fun as one of the themes of team communication.
Interested in becoming a team coach? Discover how to coach teams to effectively work and grow.
I – Invitation
An invitation means we experience a ‘first step’ signal of being honored as worthy. We are invited into the dance. With team coaching, we invite the member’s deep participation. We assist people to venture further into their joint team endeavor.
As team coaches, we are always supporting the function and structure of the team as a collaborative framework. Personally, as a team coach, I am a little fierce about this focus. I genuinely hold that the team conversation is of itself. We invite, strong participation.
‘Fast’ often works well because it assists people to innovate fiercely. People throw out ideas, and one idea builds on another (“What if ‘this’…?” What if ‘that’…?”). People then begin to view ideas together as if on a common screen. They combine and blend ideas. They discover how ‘this’ and ‘that’ can come together and they usually emerge with a collaborative result that is much more than the sum of its parts.
D – Dialogue
Dialogue means relaxed collaborative conversation. Through dialogue, individual thoughts or possibilities can come together, like whirlpools and eddies in a stream, creating a common flow. Dialogue emerges when we all see each other as equals and engage towards the joint aim with interest in each other's variations, even if they seem very different from our own.
A – Agreement
We need to carefully examine what we need to agree on. Often, we need to agree to disagree, and include strong willingness to disagree. This kind of agreement sometimes allows for a much higher value than simple agreement because we start to build a common value bridge. This often braids into a synthesis or an emergent joint discovery, where disagreements allow for higher-level integration.
To think well as a team, we need to be able to hear our differences, and we need to speak them. If you have people on your teams who are willing to stand up and talk about what still requires work or speak frankly about their opinions when they think differently from everyone else you are fostering useful team engagement. You are paradoxically establishing a framework for the team players to really think collaboratively. When people finally find their way through a difficult area, the prior dialogue and agreement are encouraging the emergence of a strong team. This also develops a much higher intention to create visionary results for the company.
R – Respect
How do we create respect? People need to see themselves, each other, and their purpose with high value being added, and to understand that this collaboration can create something great. There are lots of reasons not to trust others on a team and to hold onto ‘private’ knowledge. It is easier not to share ideas, not to teach others, and not give freely of our developed skills and resources. Team Coaches need to build and demonstrate high respect for the individual work of all members and support a genuine agreement to disagree. Gradually, people begin to see the team’s respect as ‘home base’, a natural place to share their best…and they do share freely!
T – Trust
All of the above factors – rapport, invitation, dialogue, agreement, and respect - will, over time, build trust. Trust is Respect enhanced by long-term experience! It takes courage and value-focus to genuinely give your heart to a team and set aside your own time and energy to do so. Trust is something that emerges through the experience that respect is present. We do not earn respect – it needs to be given freely. This means that trust gradually and naturally builds.
Trust naturally leads to a final function that the team coach needs to hold for each and every member; well-expressed appreciation. When we debrief, we appreciate the courage towards team communication at every single step, all of the way down the line. We acknowledge the work being accomplished. We understand (stand under) the agreement that members have made to have the team function be preeminent whenever they are present together.
A great team gradually becomes like a long-term band of jazz musicians. People don’t want sameness all the time in their communication, yet they don’t want chaos either. As team members, we want to live on the edge of our creative depth! Each team member gradually learns the common melodies of team effectiveness; their team’s ‘rhythm.’ They learn how to participate, and to integrate and expand the collaborative emergent ‘joint tune’ of the moment. And, with the team’s support, individuals break out into their own ‘riffs’ of specific, personal vision and achievement. We experience ourself both as members and as unique ‘sub-teams’ creating new ideas. This means that others can build on what we have done. This approach allows innovative experience to permeate the whole team and everyone shares the reward. Effective working teams can gradually rebuild the structure of the whole company so that great music gets played.
Well-coached, cross-functional teams can continue, over time, to collaborate, share information, and build the corporate promise to the world. They become the company’s backbone, making sure that key values and visions will be shared and done. They represent the whole and do the work that the company wants to accomplish. This means that the teams continually grow the company and grow the team itself at the very same time. The result is phenomenal for the companies that do the work to develop their internal teams. The company becomes much stronger. The teams become interpersonal units with co-leaders collaboratively holding the company’s vision as a joint vision.
You, the team coach, hold a central role in all this. Everything depends on your willingness to be a fierce, vital part of the team, holding their structure over multiple sessions, moving twixt and tween, assisting them as they divide up the work and go off and do it.
High Performance Team Coaching means you assist the whole team to stand in overview position on their team purpose through time, seeing what they have accomplished so far and also seeing the team’s development. This brings deep satisfaction to all members. The team can see that even in a difficult area they can – and have – moved ahead, step-by-step. This is what all members want: the ability to see that they are launching products and services with some smooth finesse, building the team well, and growing their own individual leadership at the very same time.