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The Truth about Trust – the cheap and direct key to team building

September 17, 2007
The Truth about Trust – The cheap and direct key to team building 

definition (www.
A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principal, reality

definition ( www.
Rely or depend on; to believe

Why are team building exercises minimally effective and sometime downright annoying? They all assume the people you work with understand and then state reality and that inter-personnel issues are creating friction. No, I’m not calling people liars, because you’ll deal with that in real-time. But, let me give you two examples:

A sophisticated IT group was under-delivering based on the estimates of the Applications Development Director. Strains emerged because the other IT Directors, CIO and CEO did not trust these overly optimistic estimates based on true history. A team building consultant was brought in who created communications-contracts between these seemingly warring Directors. The truth about trust was that the Development Director was weak on estimating and fixing communications did not address that. Establishing a Project Management Office reporting to the CIO did.

A new Sales team repeatedly blew their forecasts, which the President, Board and Financial Analysts did not appreciate. They held a last-chance group forecasting meeting using a new sales methodology. Since they did not understand the reality of why and how someone buys their product, the new consensus was just as good as any other guess even if it was in a new format. They were not mis-representing; they just had no concept of the reality in their sales cycle and this loss of truth killed off trust.

The key takeaway of this blog entry is:

You cannot build a team solely by communicating or cooperating better – every interaction has to reinforce trust by being based on truth. In virtually all cases, the lack of truth is based on a need for knowledge or skills. Treat the causes and you’ll get better results, cheaper and faster. Team building exercises are great – once everyone has truth and trust.

PS – you may need an objective outsider to identify the causes, but you can almost certainly implement the fixes by yourselves. Save the money; get better results.

Rich Eichen is the Founder and a Managing Principal of Return on Efficiency, LLC, who’s website is and is one of their senior turnaround leaders/CROs, Program and Interim Executives with over 25 years’ experience reshaping companies, Operations, IT and key initiatives. He can be reached


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